I don’t ride much lately, but I love every bike story that comes my way. It was my dad, Don Oedekerk, who taught me the love of the bike and an appreciation for all things mechanical. You can fix a bike on the side of the road.
My dad had an infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors, and anything that kept you moving fast through it. Not so much hiking, as mountain biking. Not so much running as cycling. Not so much kayaking as water skiing. You get the idea. He opted to fly his own plane, rather than look up at the sky.
My Ernest Hemmingway of a father was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia when he in his late 50s. He died this July 18 at the age of 83. I smile when I think of him as his old active self again. (By the way, he’ll opt for the banjo instead of the harp. So if you hear a bit of a ruckus up there, it’s him.)
Dad was an early member of the “Les Bodner And Others Early Winter Ski Trip.” They traveled every December to a ski area and then settled on Vail, CO., to catch some early-season skiing. The “young guys” Dad and his friends welcomed to their group continue the tradition to this day.
For RPM purposes, I want to give a heart-felt shout out to JV Peacock. Dad loved the Outpost and in 1988, took me straight there to outfit my backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand. (I still have my vintage North Face jacket with the removable hood he wanted me to have.) When you have dementia, you are drawn to the familiar and Dad’s familiar was theOutpost. During his disease, I was concerned to learn that Dad spent hours just hanging out in the store. I didn’t know JV at the time, but will be ever grateful for his graciousness and allowing Dad to preserve his dignity just a bit longer, surrounded by the sporting equipment he loved.
At 70, 13 years into his illness, I showed my dad a wake board. Having never seen one, he got up on his first try (Who does that?) He loved it. An hour later, he didn’t remember the experience.
From about 2009 on he didn’t remember me most days and he communicated less and less. On the day he died, one of his caregivers asked me if he liked to ride bikes. “Well yes!” I said. She thought so. Just a week or two before he had asked, “Where’s my bike?”
Rest in activity, Dad—Love you!