Road Rage On a Bicycle

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jul 25, 2015

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair of the human race.”
H. G. Wells

Several of my UVF friends are avid cyclists. Nearly every weekend, weather permitting, Dr. Dan Mortensen, (executive VP and VP of development), Dr. Kevin Beery (VP of academic affairs) and Jonathan Capeci (VP of finance) and sometimes a few more colleagues/friends pack up their bicycles and find their way to the popular Schuylkill River Trail (SRT). Somewhere near Phoenixville, they replace motorized transportation for the power of the pedal.

This topic came up when we were all together and Kevin was illustrating how anger can affect our lives. “A few times I have encountered bicyclists,” he said, “who bark out orders at other bicyclists to get out of their way, as if the trail is the eminent domain of the fastest riders.” I couldn’t help but smile when he called that “Road rage on a bicycle.”

That description piqued my curiosity. I had to learn more about this love of biking which these three colleagues and friends shared. So I asked them. 

Dan has a road bike, manufactured by Giant, that he purchased through Craigslist. Kevin currently rides a Felt F3C Carbon Road bike but he has owned/ridden at least five other bikes prior to this one. Jonathan’s road bike was manufactured by Cannondale.

Since each of them is extremely busy with personal and professional responsibilities, I asked them why they prioritized their time to bike on such a regular basis. As you would expect, each of them acknowledged they biked for exercise. That was definitely one clear priority. But they also described numerous other reasons.

Dan said, “I love to be outdoors. It is not unusual if you get out on the SRT early enough to scare off a few deer as you whiz past. I’ve also seen a fox or two. There are places on the trail where the river is visible and you can often see kayaks and canoes on the water. Watching the sun come up while you are riding along the beautiful Schuylkill River is great for your spiritual health.” 

According to Kevin, “I have always loved bicycling. I like the solitude and scenery of a long bike ride.” And for Jonathan, “I also enjoy the feeling of pedaling at a cadence that seems natural at a pace which I am able to achieve. There is also a sense of personal accomplishment when you achieve a certain distance or speed.”

As colleagues and friends, they each also mentioned the wonderful camaraderie that they have. Jonathan even mentioned the time last year when he was on the French Creek Iron Tour which is 62 miles long. He reminisced, “Although I completed it, the hill climbing throughout the ride pushed me to the point of complete exhaustion. At the second rest stop I completely passed out. I probably would have stopped at that point; however, Kevin was there and rode with me and encouraged me the rest of the tour. This ride was the longest of my career and I am sure I would not have accomplished it without Kevin’s encouragement.”

If given the opportunity, each of them could be spokespersons for the SRT. They love biking on it. Built primarily on an old railroad line, this popular trail is actually a multi-use trail in Southeastern Pennsylvania with a projected length of almost 130 miles when completed. There are currently over 60 miles of finished trail, including a 26-mile stretch from Philadelphia to Phoenixville. 

I am not sure if Dan, Kevin and Jonathan would agree with Desmund Tutu but there are probably some cyclists who would, when he said, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize that fishing is stupid and boring.”

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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