“Bill Walton’s All About the Bike,” by Jason Gay. The Wall Street Journal, 4/21/2016.
Cycling is something I’ve been doing daily for over 40 years, even taking my first son on a pajama ride through the neighborhood before his bedtime in a child seat mounted over the back wheel. Bill Walton was a hippy-ish basketball star I remember well. Finding one article on both—and written by Jason Gay besides!— makes me glad to have lived this long.
Bill Walton is naturally loquacious and passionate about everything. Ask him what he had for dinner, and, Gay tells us, by the time he’s through describing it “you’ll be ready to vote his dinner for president.” Add to that the passion all cyclists have about their sport and you will go out and buy a bike of your own after listening to him.
Walton grew up in San Diego where he cycled everywhere. Today, he says he loves to ride all day on a custom bike made for his height and in bespoke shoes for his size 17 feet. He says, “My dream is to do 100 miles a day. Get up, have breakfast, get going, ride all day, stop for lunch, ride, come home, take a swim, take a Jacuzzi, have a hot shower, have dinner, go to bed, get up and do it again, day after day.”
I once did almost that routine until my left knee cried out in pain. Several times I had to pedal home with just my right foot in the pedal clip and the left tucked over the crossbar. It was a form of “runner’s knee,” tendonitis, and my knee was fine when not pushed to such extremes. Walton’s dream is mine, too, but I know mine will forever be only a dream. And that’s okay. Glad to have been there and done that.
Walton claims he is a poor rider, and he may be right. He has picked up nicknames like “Crash” and “Always Lost.” He is so slow no one wants to ride with him. One rider passed him saying, “Bill, I didn’t know it was humanly possible to ride a bike that slow and still stay upright” (See posting The Unridable Bicycle, 3/20/2011). But both of his ankles are now fused, forcing him to ride gimpy, so he has an excuse. And, too, he is 63.
I hope to follow his example and ride more often, just more slowly and in a lower gear than I once did. Slow is better than nothing, I kid you not.