Doni’s Q&A With Cyclist Dave Bartle: ‘Get Outside and Enjoy’

Editor’s note: Doni spoke with Dave Bartle of Redding, someone who offered biking tips when Doni mentioned she was thinking of riding a bike again. Doni wondered if it’s true what they say about riding a bike – that once you learn, you never forget. If anyone knew the answer, Bartle would.

Dave Bartle

Dave, you look like a regular buttoned-down business kind of  guy, but I know that when you’re not working, you’re quite a bike rider.

I started riding seriously about 25 years ago. I ride anywhere from 2-4 times a week all year round. Hot weather, cold weather even wet weather. That includes night riding in the winter.

Night riding? In the winter? Sounds dark and cold.

Before we get too far down this road, where are my manners? I know you from our years working together at that place that shall not be mentioned, where you were in sales and I was in editorial. But readers might not know you. Please, Dave, tell a bit about yourself.

My wife and I moved to the Redding area 21 years ago for all of the outdoor opportunities available. I have always been athletic. I have competed in a wide range of sports through my life, including playing rugby for San Diego State University. My wife and I are avid hikers and backpackers and I recently completed my 10th summit climb of Mt. Shasta. It’s a natural for me to climb Shasta since I work for Shasta.com.

I have been very active in the community over the years. I have been a director of the Redding Trade Club, member of the Asphalt Cowboys, Friends of Whiskeytown board member and I am an Ambassador for the Greater Redding Chamber of Commerce.

Busy, busy guy. Hey, and very clever the way you so artfully connected your Mt. Shasta climb with working for Shasta.com. That’s why you’re a great salesman, Dave.

OK, back to bikes. Forgive me if this seems a dumb question, but what exactly do you get out of bicycling?

First of all, fitness. My father died at a young age from a heart attack and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me. But mostly it is about being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful area we live in. I have seen all sorts of wildlife on my rides, including lots of deer, coyotes, snakes (sometimes rattlers), otters, beavers, mountain lions and bears. I almost ran into a bear on Muletown Road in Whiskeytown one time. He told me to watch where I was going. Some rides are just gorgeous when there is snow on the mountains.

I’m sincerely sorry about your dad. But that’s very cool that you’re taking such pro-active steps to stay fit.

No segue, and I don’t want to misquote you, but I’ve heard your phrase to describe how long you’ve been riding your bike. Not to put you on the spot, which means that’s what I’m about to do. Sorry.

Well, since I started riding bikes as a kid over 50 years ago, it is safe to say I have been riding a bike since before some other well-known riders in town were born. I am sure that includes some friends like Bruce Ross and Jim Dyar. Ha ha. (Note from Doni. Yes, that was the part I was looking for.) 

But really I am just an average person out there riding. I don’t compete or belong to any organized clubs that hold weekly rides. Though, those are great groups to join if you like riding socially.

Funny, you’re such a social guy, I’d have bet you a beach cruiser with a wicker basket on the front that you’d belong to a bike club – and be the president, vice-president and membership chair.

I usually ride alone, which gives me some really solitary time; it is really precious to me since I spend a lot of time in front of other people, talking on the phone and all the other busy activities of being in business.

Makes sense.

So you’ve been riding a bike for a long time. How did you get into it, and more important, why did you continue it over the years, when so many others (OK, me) let cobwebs grow in their spokes? Ouch. Sounds painful.

I grew up in an era when it was expected for kids to ride their bikes to school, to friends’ houses, your Little League games. We put playing cards in the spokes to make our bikes sound cool.

I was still riding my bike to school in college. I started mountain biking for fun and fitness and because I love being outdoors.

Are you a mountain bike rider, a street rider, or both? (I learned these terms in Alisha Gorder’s story about bike choices. You can read it here.)

Both. I started mountain biking first but over the last several years I seem to ride my road bike more. Less chance of falling, I guess. I must be getting old.

Hmm. Maybe I should stick with a road bike, too. Until I get the hang of it. Hey, I told you about my garage-sale find, a Free Spirit for $10? I’ve not been on a bike since my Schwinn when I was a kid. Is it ever too late to hop back on a bike?

Of course not. Riding a bike is great exercise and it is much easier on your knees, hips and other joints than running. My father-in-law is still riding at the age of 83.

Go, dad! So you’re saying that it’s true what they say about riding a bike; that you never forget?

Well, that’s what they say, whoever they are. They say that about other things too, but I guess that would be a different article. Nancy Sutton Pierce of “As You Desire” (A News Cafe’s sex column) should probably write that one. Another ha ha.

Did I miss something? Earth to Dave. We’re talking about bikes. Anyway, I remember you told me how you prepare for a long ride, such as eating certain foods – or not. Any tips you can share with the rest of the class?

Since I ride after work in the heat of the summer I try to avoid a heavy lunch. I also stay away from dairy and meat the days I am going to ride. One-hundred-and-five degrees can be pretty unforgiving. I might eat an apple or some other fruit an hour before I ride.

Sounds like it’s a possible weight-loss plan in addition to being a fitness program. Where do I not sign up?

We’ve probably covered just about everything, but before you go, may I ask what kinds of bikes have you had over the years, and what do you recommend for someone who wants to ride again?

I have a tendency to keep the same bike(s) for a longtime. I have never really owned an expensive bike, though I am looking at buying a carbon fiber road bike down the road. Sooner than later, hopefully.

My first bike probably weighed 40 pounds and had fenders on it. I have owned different mountain bikes and road bikes over the years. And a beach cruiser with a Styrofoam cup holder duct taped to the handle bars to carry a beer while riding at the boardwalk. That was when I lived in San Diego.

Oh, you had a beach cruiser! I really like the way they look, so sturdy, with a nice cushy seat and wide tires. I can totally picture you riding one with that cup holder.

Anyway, anything else?

I am absolutely amazed how few people in this area take advantage of all the trails and beauty we have here. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the River Trail, all the new trails BLM is building around Swasey Drive on Muletown and the trails along Clear Creek are really great. Most of them are not that difficult to ride. You can always just hike them. Finally, I would just say start easy and build up. But at least get outside and enjoy.

You’ve inspired me. Thank you, Dave. Bike on, man.
Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.

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