Remember when you learned to ride a bicycle?
After days, maybe weeks of practice, it “clicks.” Suddenly, you work well with gravity. You balance effortlessly, feel the wind on your face as you pick up speed, no longer wobbly. But as we grow older we often forget that feeling. Instead of remaining young and free, we learn to worry about time, money, and the speed at which we are able to get from A to B.
Chip Haynes never forgot that feeling, and, 60 years after he learned to ride a bike, he has remained dedicated to what he calls, “Bike Life.” Haynes learned to ride in 1957 and has not stopped since. He calls himself a “Bicycling Agent Provocateur,” working to give bicycles a higher profile in the public eye, a better position as legitimate transportation, and to create a safer environment for all bicyclists.
Haynes has contributed to generating enthusiasm for bicycling in his writing, which culminated in a book called “The Practical Cyclist,” published in 2009. The book was immediately endorsed by Mother Earth News as a ‘Recommended Book for Wiser Living,’ and, in 2010, the book won the silver medal in the Outdoor/Recreation category of the Jenkins Group “Living Now” awards.
It’s no surprise. Chip’s level of bicycling experience and expertise is impressive, to say the least.
In 1972, a year he calls “The Bike Boom,” Haynes organized a three-day bicycle show and a group ride to Taylor Park in Clearwater. Chip also joined the St. Pete Bike Club during that time, and has been active in the local bicycling community ever since. In 2008, he and his wife, JoAnn, became citizen advisors on Clearwater’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Task Force. In 2011, Chip was appointed by the City of Clearwater as Citizen Representative on the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (now Forward Pinellas) Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Chip is also known for a local ride he hosts. “The Coaster Brake Club” meets every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Ross Norton Recreation Center in Clearwater. Chip leads the ride on his 50 year-old coaster brake Schwinn, one of 50 bikes in the Haynes collection, a collection that boasts an array of non-motorized two-wheelers, some of them preserved as long as 120 years. Chip says the purpose of “The Coaster Brake Club” ride is to show people that, “they don’t need a complex, high-tech bicycle to enjoy it. Any old bike will do.”
So, if you have forgotten your first victory on a bicycle—that time you befriended gravity and began to balance effortlessly—how you felt the wind on your face as you picked up speed, then no worries. You probably have not forgotten how to ride a bike. So ask yourself, when was the last time you rode? Like Chip says, “You don’t have to go fast and you don’t have to go far. You just have to go.”