.....The BiKeWriTeR

Prepping for 2024 bike tour: Kansas to Wi

The 2024 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s is prepping for takeoff. This year’s tour is Wichita, KS to Wisconsin… with heaps of adventure on tap.

The first BIG announcement is my friend and I built wings for my jacket so I can take advantage of strong tailwinds.

It’s an invitation I’ve been dreaming about since my brother and I were obsessed with jetpacks in our youth.

My brother John also spoke often in the 1970s about putting a television and phone in the car. I distinctly remember my dad telling him to “get over it” and “it’ll never happen.”

Interesting the advancements in technology.

My dad was better with wood, wheels, and bikes when it came to inventions. He had a master-class workshop in his basement with sturdy drills, a solid vice, a drawer packed with lumber scraps, and a collection of power saws.

My mother had a different perspective. “Full of sawdust,” she said.

But it was my Dad’s nightly escape that featured country music on the radio mixed with a little 3-in-1 oil, a noisy whirring power saw and, in its heyday, we even had a bb gun shooting gallery in the dank crawl space.

Eventually Dad learned not to saw when towels, sheets, and cloth diapers were on the line in the neighboring laundry room.

He would retreat to the workshop every night after supper. Kids were always welcome. “You draw it and we’ll build it,” he would say.

We would scratch out rough designs of our ideas on paper or draw directly onto a piece of wood. We had a toy jigsaw; that gave us a good start at not pushing too hard we’d break the blade or sharpen our skills at following the line.

After all his years as the local Me Fix It, dad still could hold up five fingers on each hand. He made sure we followed that same path and he was diligent about making sure we kept our eyes protected as well. Safety goggles were a must – with everything including sparklers on the 4th of July.

Some of our more memorable projects included a wooden yellow race car similar to the Mach 5 on the Speed Racer cartoon that normally aired after school.

If something broke, Dad could fix it. The boys had a large collection of “dolls.” They called them action figures. All of them from GI Joe to Planet of the Apes to the $6 Million Dollar Man were maimed in some fashion. Most were missing hands. Al Steffes had a great triage clinic, next to his vice. With the skill of a handyman surgeon he gave everyone a pirate hook.

A bent nail sufficed. It was crude… but I don’t recall any of us ever complained – surprisingly none of us ever lost an eye.

What else did we build? Well the 7 Steffes kids had a large collection of wood stilts. One pair was so high we had to climb into them after scaling the garage.

We also begged for a Big Wheel. Red body, blue seat, yellow handlebars. The one all the kids had. Purchased at Winkie’s and factory produced by Marx.

That’s not what my Dad envisioned.

He took the front of a tricycle for the pedals, added a car steering wheel and the rims off his Dad’s wheelchair.

Unconventional… yet creative and the only one like it on the block.

Fifty years later I’m now designing wings for my “squirrel suit” featuring simple panels of fabric that fill the void in the space between my hand and my hip.

My jacket provides the base and the panels are sewn in place.

The idea is that space will now catch the wind and offer a boost as I cycle to my next destination. It’s no secret, wind will be key.

Making wings for the tour

“Have I not commanded you? …  Be strong and courageous. … Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9


The 2024 Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s is raises money every year for music programming for seniors at Cedar Community, a 501c3, so all donations are tax-deductible.

Donate via the secure website through Cedar Community.  Donations should be marked “Amazing Ride 2024.” Click HERE to make a secure online donation.

Checks may be made payable to “Cedar Community” with “Judy Bike Ride” in the memo line and mailed to 113 Cedar Ridge Dr., West Bend, WI 53095

Be sure to include the Federal Tax ID Number for the Foundation: 39-1249432

You may also find a downloadable donation form HERE.

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