Watch for Louisville’s ‘Invisible Cyclists’

Sonny Neurath has covered 30,000 miles on his Schwinn Tempo
Sonny Neurath, at 75, rides his bike to the health club.

While you’re changing music on your car stereo, eating a cheeseburger, or busy texting a friend, please be on the lookout for cyclists like this one.

Sonny Neurath is modest about his nearly 30 years of cycling, but at age 75 he’s still racking up the miles. I met Sonny in front of Milestone Fitness Center, where he was parking his bike and getting ready to pump a little iron.

He’s seen older riders with more impressive mileage than his. “Boyd Sigler was 20 years ahead of me,” said Sonny. “He was 70 and I remember when he lived in the West End he would do a century ride out to Sawyer Park and beyond. Or sometimes he would take what he called ‘a senior discount’ and hitch a ride home. He and another friend of ours cycled in the rain all the way from here to the Michigan/Indiana border to do the Amish ride,” he recalled.

“I got into cycling after my knees gave out. Jerry Sanders and I used to jog. When my knees started clicking I kept running. That turned out to be a disaster. Then Jerry told me about the Louisville Bicycle Club. I remember the first ride I went on with the club; the others asked me what I did for exercise. I said, well, I used to jog, but my knees went bad. They all laughed and said, ‘we get all of you joggers, eventually.’ That was back in 1985.”

You can tell Sonny’s bike is an old friend. He introduced me. “This is my original Schwinn Tempo. I’m on my third chain and freewheel set. I crossed the 25,000 mile mark in 1997 – all on this bike.”

Sonny Neurath, at 75, enjoys riding his bike for short trips.
Sonny Neurath, at 75, enjoys riding his bike for short trips.

But Sonny isn’t all that impressed with himself. “I’ve probably gone past 30,000 by now, but that’s nothing. Paul Battle started in the club about the same time as I did and he’s put more than 100,000 miles behind him.”

These days, Sonny uses his bike for short trips. “I come here to Milestone Fitness a couple of times a week to keep the muscles working and keep strength in my joints. I use the bike for trips to the barbershop, the bakery, stuff like that. “

As you drive around Louisville, be on the lookout for Sonny Neurath and others like him. Cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders are doing their part to keep our air cleaner, our streets less congested, and our parking lots less crowded. And they’re staying healthy, reducing the demand on health care. Instead of looking at them as an obstacle in your way, remember they’re doing everyone a favor.

Grace. Peace. Bicycle grease.

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane.
Share the road.

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Enjoy the ride home.

© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI

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