September 11, 2013 - Jim Meloche of Clarkston's soon turning 70 years old, and he wanted to celebrate with something unique.
"I'll be 70 years old on Sept. 13, Friday the 13th, 2013," Meloche said. "That's why I wanted to do something special."
He selected the DALMAC, Dick Allen Lansing to MACkinaw bike ride, five days of pedaling about 300 miles up the state of Michigan.
"It's a long-time event, 44 years – I knew about it years ago," he said.
He was an avid cyclist about 30 years ago, stopping to raise his family. His longest ride then was 52 miles, from Pontiac to Detroit and back.
He started training for DALMAC six months ago, and worked with Kinetic Systems Bicycles in Clarkston to get a new bike and gear.
"Bicycles from 30 years ago were nowhere near what they have today," he said.
He joined the Flying Rhinos cycling club, and trained with his daughter and son-in-law.
During DALMAC, he rode 72-79 miles a day, averaging 14 miles per hour.
"My fastest was 32 mph downhill with bugs in my teeth," he said. "It's amazing what these bikes will do."
Organizers transported their camping equipment on trucks and provided breakfast and dinner.
"We camped in school yards," he said. "It's interesting how the communities would come out. They really got into it."
He rode with about 640 people along the original DALMAC route. About 2,400 total were signed up along four routes.
"It was amazing," he said. "The average age was 49 years old. That was a big surprise to me. There were a lot of guys my age."
He noticed riders were young or older people.
"Those in the middle are at home taking care of the kids," he said. "I would do it again, the whole experience was wonderful."
Setting up camp after 75 miles on the road, and waiting in line for showers and meals in the rain could be tedious, but it worked out, he said.
"We were all in it together," he said.
Every day, Meloche walked to a local sports bar, which he knew would have Wi-Fi, to charge his phone and update his Elder Cyclist blog, jimmeloche.blogspot.com.
He plans to continue riding as part of his fitness regimen. In winter, he serves with the national ski patrol in Independence Oaks. His bike is rugged, so he also plans to cycle throughout the year.
He has lived in Clarkston since 1975, and works as a marketing consultant, The Marketing Collaborative in Bloomfield Hills.
"I'll keep working until I fall over, and I'm not planning to do that anytime soon," he said.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.