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#WhyIRide: To Remain Connected to My Brother

This May, we’re asking the question, “With so many reasons to ride, what’s yours?” The beauty of the bicycle is that it means many things to many people, so we wanted to highlight some of those many reasons this National Bike Month.

Today, we heard from Andrew Siegel, of Dover, Delaware, who rides because it keeps him connected to his brother. Here’s his story…

“I’m a 54 year old rider. I started riding like most children did, but it was my older brother, Mike, who got me interested in cycling. Years later when I could fully appreciate my older brother, we would go out together. On a number of occasions, we would head South on a Friday afternoon on a 45 to 60 mile ride with our favorite beach towns in our sights. After he graduated from college, he took a job about 50 miles away at the University of Delaware. I had a new destination on warm summer afternoons. Eventually we went our separate ways. I joined the Navy and landed in Pearl Harbor. He and his wife moved back to Santa Fe. We both continued to ride in varying degrees for many years. I rode my bike to and from work, he continued cycling. I got in my occasional long ride, but the passion for cycling as a participant was gone. We’d still talk about the Tour de France every year even before Greg LeMond piqued America’s interest. Every year I’d tell myself that I was going to start up again. Fast forward about 20 years and I’ve retired from the Navy and settled back in my hometown. I took a nice job with the City of Dover and started gaining weight and losing energy. Mike would take his jabs in fun as he continues to be lean, trim, and fit. 

On a February morning in 2013, I stepped on the scale and was .2 pounds away from a weight I never wanted to see. I was now inspired. I bought a new bike and started cycling again. It was like the good old days, except slower – for now. Riding long roads alone provided a lot of reflection time and I always remembered the good times we had riding together. About two weeks after I started, my father passed away after a long battle with heart disease. Now I had even more resolve. In the process of settling my dad’s estate, Mike was able to visit a couple times, but never had a chance to ride. By August, I had lost 40 pounds and was logging a lot of miles on the bike. I looked forward to the time we could ride together again. It never happened, as Mike suddenly passed away from a massive heart attack two months later.

My sister-in-law graciously allowed me to have Mike’s bicycle (a Postal Service Trek). At the time I was riding about 300 miles a month. Now I was doing it on Mike’s bike with him on my back wheel. 

As much as I liked the back roads, during warm months, I rode my bike to and from work often. I thought of myself as a careful rider. I word bright colors, a helmet, and followed all the rules of the road. I’ve had some close calls, but I saw them coming and was prepared. In August of this year, on my way to work, I didn’t see one coming. As I was traveling to work at a pace to keep up with traffic, an oncoming vehicle saw a gap in traffic to make a left hand turn into a convenience store. Unfortunately, I was in that gap. He never saw me and I had no time to react. I decelerated from over 25mph to 0 into the side of the truck with my front wheel and head taking the impact. This was a serious one.

As bad as I was, and to a lesser extent, continue to be injured, the more devastating part was the destruction of Mike’s bike. Here was my tangible link to my brother destroyed. I couldn’t let this stop me from riding. I came too far to quit. I got a new bike and couldn’t wait to ride. People can say what they want about divine intervention, but I was able to find an exact match to Mike’s bike on eBay. I bid on it and lost, but the winning bidder never paid. It was listed again and I got it for a fraction of my original bid. I was meant to have this bike. I was able to reuse a lot of the components from my brother’s bike so I still have that tangible link in addition to knowing he’s on my back wheel.”

What’s your reason to ride? Tell us and you could see it here later this month!