Mixsonian Larry


I started bicycling at an early age and have continued to do so throughout my life.  Here are some stories about my bicycling experiences.

Larry, David, Brenda on bikesDavid, Larry and Brenda on our bikes about to go to school 1961

     I vaguely remember my dad teaching me to ride.   We were in the road in front of our house on 27th drive in Gainesville.  I got on and dad started behind me holding the bike and then letting go.  When I was in elementary school I rode my bike to Littlewood which had just opened.  It was about a mile ride which wasn’t far but at that age it seemed longer. I don’t remember what kind of bike I had but it was a one speed with a coaster brake in which you peddled backwards to engage the brake.  David and I would ride up and down the street sometimes in the fog behind mosquito truck that came each week in the summer.  I remember in the summer it sometimes rain every afternoon and sometimes we would be on our bikes and see the rain coming down the street and we could ride just in front of the advancing rain until we got to our house.

    While in junior high school I got a “new” bike, it was three speed Schwin hand-me-down from my uncle Corky.   The Schwin was almost like new and had three speeds with hand brakes with big baskets on the back for carrying my books.  This was like way cool, could go faster and further.  I road to school almost every day and would bike all around the neighborhood and sometimes over to my friend Hank Weaver’s house which was near Westwood school.   During this time David and Brenda got new Sears three speed bikes for Christmas.  I initially felt left out because they got new bikes and had an old bike.  To make my bike look better I painted the bike all black and then added bright yellow strips using yellow tape.  About year or so later I was I felt different as the David and Brenda’s Sears bikes started to have problems and break while my sturdy old Schwin held together.  This was in part due I took care of it and was often adjusting or tightening things.

    As I started high school I couldn’t ride my bike to school anymore as it was too far to ride to Gainesville High (I took the bus and later rode with Brenda or my friend Bill).  I still rode my bike a lot as it was my only means of getting around until I got my first car in summer of 1970.  I would ride over to my friends Bill, Ed, John houses.  I also remember riding over to Hog Town creek by Gainesville High School to look for sharks teeth.  I remember having a crush on Ginny Gordon in my senior year and road across town to see where she lived.  I never did have the nerve to ask her out.  

The C&O Canal Bike PathThe C&O Canal

    When in college I got a new ten speed Sears bike.  Ten speeds were relatively new at this time and it was a big improvement.   I would often ride from my house on 36th avenue to work or class at the University of Florida which was three or four miles.    It was during this time that I started to go out for longer bike rides just for the enjoyment of the ride.  I remember one weekend I was riding across the university campus and there was a bike race just starting.   I thought this is cool and just got in line with everyone else at the starting line.   The races begin and went around the roads on the campus and back to the ending line and I was like in the top five or so riders.  The people at the finishing line were quickly going around to the riders recoding their position in the race when I realized you were suppose to sign up in advance so I just quietly road away.

    In 1976 I moved to Indialantic for a new job and a few years later to Melbourne where I would go out for bike rides around the area. 

The W&OD Trail
W&OD Trail

    In 1988 I took a job in Reston Virginia and didn’t have a car and so one of the first things I did was go out buy a new twelve speed road bike and I started riding my bike more often.   During this year I took my first rides out the W&OD Trail with Willie who I rented a room from. 

 Over the next few years I started riding more and more often doing thirty to fifty mile rides on the weekends.   Twice I did the Multiple Sclerosis 150 mile weekend ride and the 300 mile five day Bike Virginia ride in 1992 and 1993. 

In 1991 I did considerable biking, often doing 20-30 mile rides and several times going out to the end of the W&OD trail in Purcellville and back to Reston, a 40 mile round trip.  In May of ’91 I did a three day, 150 mile, fund raising bike tour which for Multiple Sclerosis.  To enter the ride, you had to raise $150 dollars which I didn’t care much for doing. I did get sixty dollars or so from people at work but mostly paid the remainder myself.  The tour was three days of riding, 60 to 75 miles each day with the two nights spent camping.  It was well organized with over a hundred riders.  It started on Friday morning, where you checked in, picked up your map packet, and dropped off your camping gear. We were allowed two duffle bags, which they then transported to the camping site each night.  The route was well marked both on the map booklet, and at each turn.  Every ten miles or so on the route they had rest stops with water and snacks and a stop for lunch.   Upon arriving at the end of the day at the campsite, you picked up your camping gear, which wasn’t aways easy to find amongst 200+ bags of all the riders, and then found a place to set up you tent.  It was always good to be done with the ride early for at times the lines for the showers were quite long.   They had a nice dinner for the riders and then breakfast the following morning then repeating it all for a second day.  The third day had breakfast, lunch and the ride ended at a pickup point which my wife Julie came and picked me up.  It was a beautiful ride though the Virginia country, country roads, small towns, all quite scenic.  I had done quite a few 40 mile rides before the tour, but I found 60 miles was harder than I expected. The first day, with all the excitement, I rode a bit to fast, which was good for I finished up in the early afternoon allowing me to get a good spot for my tent, and not have any lines for the showers, but I was pretty tired that night.  The second day I paced myself better but by the end of the day was even more tired. And my butt hurt.  I took the third day I recovered somewhat and finished the ride.  The ride was a lot of fun.

I really liked the Multiple Sclerosis  (MS) bike tour so much that in May of 1992 I did it a second time.  Learning lessons from the first time, I did considerably more practice rides the month before and was more prepared for it.  

Bike Virginia 1992

This prepared me for a longer bike tour when in June of 1992 I did the five day, 300 mile Bike Virginia Tour which was held each year in a different part of Virginia.  In ’92 it was titled “The Chesapeake Bay Odyssey” which was held in the eastern part of Virginia.  It was a beautiful ride through the Virginia country roads going through the towns of Colonia Beach, Warsaw, Windmill point, West Point the final day ending at historic Jamestown.  One thing I found from the MS bike tours is that I struggled with hills with my road bike, so I had the gears changed to lower gears which helped.  The Bike Virginia tour had over 200 riders which made quite a tent city at the stops each night which three nights were set up on the football fields of the town’s high schools where we used the showers in the high school’s locker rooms which brought back of memories of how I much I disliked the locker rooms when I was in high school.    We had very nice weather except for the final day when there was a steady rain the last two hours of the ride.  I was soaking wet by the time I pulled into the final gathering area at Jamestown and was very glad to be done and get into a nice warm dry car to return home.   By the end of ’92 I had ridden over 1,000 miles that year.

Bike Virginia 1993

I did the Bike Virginia tour again in 1993 which was titled “Southwest Virginia Odyssey” and described as a ride through “gently rolling hills” in the Virginia countryside. Well the hills turned out to be more than gently rolling.  The ride started in Bristol which is situated  the Virginia and Tennessee boarderTent City which was interesting for the state line ran though the middle of town and you could in one step go from one state to the other.  The Tour then headed northeast ending each day at the towns of Abingdon, Marion, Wytheville, Galax and ending in Floyd where the tent city was at the town’s high school or city park.  Knowing the ride was going to be hillier, I bought a new hybrid (cross between road and mountain) bike which had additional low gears which became useful with the hills and mountains.  On the last day of the tour, we road up a road to the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs along the mountain ridges from North Carolina through, then along the Parkway for several miles to Chateau Morrisette Vineyards where we had lunch. While at lunch, two of the bikers were married at the vineyard.

 It was a strenuous ride with all the hills, I was glad I had my new bike.  After lunch, we had a glorious seven mile downhill ride finishing the tour at the town of Floyd.

 A few years later sold my road bike and bought a hybrid bike as there were a number of unpaved trails in the area one being the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal along the Potomac River.  After doing 10-20 mile rides on the C&O Canal, in 1997 I, along with three others, over three days rode the 180 mile length of the canal.     

In 1992 I did a

    This area is blessed with a lot of nice ridding trails, many or converted Rails to Trails.  The W&OD Trail is my regular staple as it is only a mile from my house.   It is easy to go out and and do a quick 20 or longer 30 -40 mile rides on the weekend.  I have done rides on the  Mount Vernon Trail from Washington to Mount Vernon, the New River Trail State ParkThe Gunpowder TrailThe Youghiogheny River Trail, Rock Creek Park and others.

I  still go out riding when the weather is good but I don't get out as much as I use to.  

Other bike rides that I did:

  •  Lake Anna – day long, 39 mile bike trip around Lake Anna

  •  Mount Vernon Trail – 18.5 mile paved bike trail along the Potomac River from Roosevelt Island on the Potomac in DC to George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. I did this ride a half dozen or more times.

  • Virginia Creeper Trail – Rails to Trails in Abingdon in southwest Virginia, 34 miles.  I did this ride once.

  •  Youghiogheny River Trail - Rails to Trails in PA, did when we went white-water rafting

  • Capital Crescent Trail in Washington DC, starts in Georgetown, goes north into MD.  Did his ride quite a few times.

  • C&O Canal – George town to west section, MD Great Falls section.  I did both of these quite a few times.  The Maryland Great Falls section was one of my favorite rides have done it over a dozen times.

  •  Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.  Beautiful ride along the creek in the city.  On Sunday's they would close the road to cars.

  • The Allegheny Valley Tail in Gunpowder State Park in MD.  Did this once

Updated: 04.15-2023