September 3, 2011
Once Carol Collins gets rolling, look out.
When she’s on her Bike Friday, she takes no prisoners. The evidence sparkles in the sunlight from the three gold medals draped around her neck — hardware won at the National Senior Olympics down in her hometown of Houston back in June.
When she’s just talking about her Bike Friday, she displays the same intensity and passion.
“Oh, I just love talking about my Bike Friday,” Carol says, with a twinkling smile that’s mesmerizing. “My friends get sick and tired of hearing me rave about it, but I can’t help myself. I just love it.”
Her friends apparently indulge her. That’s the kind of respect you garner at her age. Today is Carol’s 90th birthday.
She stopped by Bike Friday a couple of weeks ago, on her drive from Houston to Portland. She felt compelled to stop by and say hi. And say thanks. She just loves her New World Tourist.
Carol rode bikes as a kid. Then she hit a dry spell. She didn’t start going out on long rides until she was 55. In the past 35 years, she has enjoyed getting out and seeing the world.
In the past 10 years, with her New World Tourist, she has visited Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
“That little bike is just so perfect for me,” Carol says. “It’s just so great for traveling. I just fold it up and put it in the back of my car, and I’m off.”
The beauty of the National Senior Olympics — and the reason Carol competed — is that they were held this year in her hometown.
“I never heard of them before,” Carol says, “but I heard they were going to be in Houston, so I figured I should check it out and see if I could ride.”
She did. She won the 5K, 10K and 20K events in her age group, the 90-95 age group.
“You compete in the age group you’ll be in that year,” Carol says, smiling as she admits, “there really isn’t a lot of competition in my age group.”
She means that literally. There just aren’t many 90-year-olds racing.
“I just love my bike, and riding it,” Carol says. “This is a big year for me, so I’ve been celebrating my birthday all year long. But I just love to get out and talk about my Bike Friday. I just had to come by.”
And we were thrilled to have her stop by, although she didn’t stay long. She hopped into her car to head up to Portland. But not before getting a little added information for her favorite topic.
“What I don’t know is why it’s called a Bike Friday,” Carol says.
We told her. It’s named after Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday. A smile burst across her face.
“Oh, I can’t wait to tell my friends that …”