For years, my grandfather would take a daily ride around Manhattan Loop. That was the street he and my grandmother lived on in Los Alamos, New Mexico.The bike he rode daily for years was a blue ten-speed touring bike with frayed tape on the drop-handle bars. My grandfather was a tall man, about six feet. The bike was huge as well.
As he got older, I don't think he felt comfortable on the the touring bike. He was fairly certain most drivers were out to kill cyclists.
He had been reading about recumbent bikes for a couple of years in the cycling magazines that were piled on the floor next to his brown leather recliner. Being an engineer his entire life, he decided that the recumbent would make a great project. He could build his own, and he would feel a lot safer riding when he was sitting up and could see the cars coming at him on the street.
So he raided the shed in the backyard. The one with the old Franklin, which had been the family car when they first moved to Los Alamos in the fifties. The shed that was filled with deceased bicycles from neighborhood kids that met unfortunate accidents.
He drew up plans on his basement drafting board and eventually started brazing and painting until he had a ride-able recumbent. Eventually, the recumbent became my grandfather's daily riding bike.
His daily uniform was one of a dozen pairs of identical gray or white coveralls. Most pairs had a huge homemade patch on the back that my grandmother or aunt sewed on for him. The patches were usually an inside joke. They said things like "Dow's Fixitorium." Some had a drawing of the Beechcraft Bonanza that he still kept at the Los Alamos airport, even though it had been decades since he could fly.
He spent another good decade riding around Manattan Loop each day on the new bike. As a teenager, when I would drive my mom up for thanksgiving dinner in a 1971 Volkswagon Beetle. We would sometimes pull in while he was doing laps.
The legs of his coveralls would flap in the breeze as he passed us. Then we would watch as a giant, reclining man continued down the hill sort of whistling and muttering at the same time. The huge oval patch on the back of his coveralls would disappear as he rounded the loop. A few minutes later he would come from the other direction. Ten times around the loop made a mile. Not bad for a man in his seventies.