By Christopher Nyerges
Perhaps you have seen 71-year-old Rafael Gomez bicycling on Colorado Boulevard. He’s easier to spot with the boulevard so empty lately because of the coronavirus shutdown. He bicycles every day, rain or shine. Of Yaqui Indian heritage, he refers to his bicycle as his “steel pony,” taking him from one adventure to another in an urban wilderness.
“I’m doing all that I can to maintain a smile on my face,” he told me when I saw him recently. “I feel very fortunate to have my health…I actually put in nearly 150 miles last week. I do this not to train anymore, but to maintain a sense of equilibrium.” He varies his routes through Glendale, Eagle Rock and into Pasadena.
Gomez and his brother, Vincente Gomez, were avid bike riders growing up who became serious bicycle racers after they returned home from serving in Vietnam. “After returning to the states, we used bicycling as a form of self-therapy, as our positive way to overcome the stress of serving in an unpopular war,” explains Gomez.
For 40 years, from 1972 through 2013, the brothers were active competitive members of the U.S. Cycling Federation. They won numerous races, including four national track racing championships in the elite men’s tandem division – after they were both over the age of 55. Vicente passed away in 2017 at age 70.
Gomez is a strong advocate for bicycling. “Too many of the youth today see their only transportation as a car,” he says. “Our whole culture pushes youth that way, and that’s too bad.”
With fire in his eye, he goes on to say, “Cycling truly helps the world. It’s an environmentally safe form of transportation. There’s no noise and it keeps you strong. Riding puts you in touch with nature in a way that riding in an auto can never do.” He says his religion is the Bicycle and his church the open road.
Gomez has found his fountain of youth via his religion of The Bicycle. He does not fear gas shortages or automobile breakdowns. He has learned that by transporting himself on his steel pony, he accomplishes many things at once: he stays in top shape – he needs no gym or psychologist – and he doesn’t contribute to environmental pollution. He is the solution. Rafael Gomez lives the life of health.
Christopher Nyerges, the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance.com.
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