Different measurements are used to gauge sporting or athletic success; it could be batting average, points scored or heights jumped.
For Kingsville resident Charlie Morgan it’s kilometres, specifically how many kilometres he can ride on his road bike.
This year the retired dentist logged 16,000 kilometres on his bike — the equivalent of cycling two-fifths of the way around the planet. Or, put another way, if it’s 384,400 kilometres to the moon, at his current pace it would take Morgan 24 years to do the earthly equivalent of travelling — by bike — to our nearest celestial neighbour. And he still has some of this year left.
“Well, I’m now 67 years old, so I’d be 91, so I’ll have to pick up the pace, but I’d love to be able to say, at 91, I’m strong enough to do it,” Morgan said.
Morgan took up cycling late in life after retiring from his Kingsville practice. Hip issues and carpal tunnel syndrome made sports like tennis no longer possible.
A friend and fellow long-distance rider, Harry Roettele, suggested Morgan take up cycling. Roettele lent Morgan a bike and they set off for a leisurely trip from Kingsville to the J.R. Park Homestead along County Road 50 — a distance of about 12 kilometres.
“When we hit that point with Harry that day I had to stop and I said, ‘I think I’m going to have to make a call to get a ride home,’” he said.
Longer rides ensued, to the point where Morgan can now hop on his Trek bike and do a ride from Kingsville to Blenheim and back in six to seven hours.
The 16,000 kilometre cumulative ride took 160 days to complete over nine months. His lowest total per month was 900 kilometres, the highest 1,400. Most of the rides were done alone, others were done with friends like Paul Woodruff, Jennifer Kilbourne, Jeff Lanigan and Sue Stephens.
A good chunk of the mileage was gobbled up doing the EC Way Centurion Challenge, which loops around the county, starting in Kingsville, ending in Kingsville and touching places like Harrow, Amherstburg, Windsor, Belle River, Cottam and Leamington. Morgan did about 14 of those rides. The centurion ride is a Share the Road initiative.
A lot of long-distance cycling is mental. So how does he do it, kilometre after kilometre, mile after mile, one boring corn or soybean field after another?
“After a while, you get what runners call a runner’s high. You kick into another gear and it just feels right, it feels good, it feels great.“
It’s a good way to clear the mind and think about things … about former rides and bike trips … putting your mind in a good place, thinking about things that make you happy, like family and friends.”
Morgan has cycled across the United States, from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, from Barcelona to Rome and along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.
Trips are in the works from Marrakesh, Morocco, to Spain, then Portugal, followed in 2022 by a ride around Tasmania.
He said the trips he has taken and will take are not all about distance and time.
“If you go on a bike trip to different places and don’t stop and look at monuments, look at the scenery and really take it, you’re wasting your time there,” he said.
Why 16,000 kilometres? Morgan said the figure represents 10,000 miles. Well, not quit. It equals 9941.9 miles. So Morgan was 58.1 miles or 93.5 kilometres short.
“I knew once I did the conversion on the laptop I realized I had some more to do … so I added another day,” he said.