Sixteen Years

<<<fifteen years<<<back to beginnings seventeen years>>>

December 1981
Mom...Roy Rogers wants his shirt back
I'd overheard some classmates discussing what I thought was a bicycle ride to New Harmony, Indiana. Too shy to follow up and ask them if that was what they were discussing, I thought to myself,"I could do that... they said it's 60 miles but I think I could". So I thought about it a lot. During the summer of 1981 I told my parents I wanted to ride my bicycle to New Harmony, expecting a pat on the back from Dad who'd always wanted my brother and I to move out of the basement and excercise and participate in sports. He told us we were lazy and skinny, and had no livelihood...he
liked to tell us about his co-workers' boys who were big and strong and participated in sports. Apparently we just didn't try hard enough. So now I could do something to impress Dad! I was excited...but my parents said,"NO!" I pleaded, almost begged them but my answer was always,"You don't need to...it's too dangerous. Just ride around the block". This started a rebellious, restless period for me. As a consolation, I rode to Mt. Vernon (24 miles round trip) alone for the first time instead of with my brother as my parents wanted us to do. I was tired of waiting for Darrel to decide when and where I could ride and he was getting too slow. I felt a little naughty doing Mt. Vernon alone but still struggled with not being able to go to New Harmony. I had no friends at school...no pride...Darrel said his classmates wondered 'what was wrong with me'...perhaps I wouldn't feel so inferior?

I couldn't understand my parents' decision and I was very disappointed. It was just a bicycle ride, and I was over 15 years old! What else did I have to look forward too? Tom told me it was my fault...he said I couldn't keep a secret about anything. So after months of feeling bitter and not being able to shake the bug, I came up with a better idea. I'd go someplace different...some place outrageous. And only Tom would know.
Once again I planned a 60-mile bicycle trip to New Harmony, Indiana, but all the while working on a secret 113-mile trip to Owensboro, Kentucky. I'd written diversion routes, brought extra clothing to disguise my progress, and plans for New Harmony left lying around to throw them off if they decided to come after me. The real plans were in my locked tackle box at school, written in morse code. I picked a date, based on information I'd gotten from the Indiana Highway and Traffic Safety Administration on traffic rates at different times of the week. I was ready, but had to wait until spring.