Friday, July 06, 2001

Cyclist's zeal

Hey, kids: It's a sport for life!

        Doug Dobrozsi is a man on a mission aboard an 18-speed bike. He wants cycling to become America's national pastime.

        “Cycling is the world's greatest sport,” he told me with evangelistic fervor.

        Better than baseball, basketball or football. More rewarding over the long haul than golf or bowling.

        “Cycling is a lifetime sport,” he said.

        Start young. Stay young. Ride a bike.

        Beats vegetating with video games or ruining creaky joints by running.

        Doug is 42. He told me he feels like he's 12 on his bike.

        He intends to ride across town today promoting the idea that cycling can be the fountain of youth on two wheels.

        At 4 p.m., Doug and 20 other cyclists plan to pedal away from the West End's Dalton Avenue post office. They'll take turns carrying a flag depicting the eagle-bedecked blue jersey of the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, starring two-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

        Ninety minutes and 20 miles later, the cyclists' journey is to end with a flag-raising ceremony at the Sycamore Branch post office in Blue Ash.

        Doug plans to carry the flag using the Lance Armstrong grip. On victory laps, the famed cyclist rides with Old Glory, balancing the flagpole with his right hand and shoulder. His left hand holds the handlebar and operates the brakes.

        Sounds difficult.

        “We'll only be going 17, 18 miles an hour,” Doug said. “It'll be a cinch.”

        To Doug, cycling is like, well, umm, learning to ride a bike. Once you know how, you never forget the thrill of moving a machine under your own steam.

        Seriously committed to cycling, Doug rides his bike from home to work, Procter & Gamble's Mason complex. “Twenty miles, round trip, via the scenic route.”

        At break time, the senior scientist in biopharmaceutics doesn't go for a Danish and coffee. He goes cycling.

        “Come up with my best ideas that way.”

        Doug admits he needs converts to his cause. The younger, the better.

        “I started cycling at 37,” he said. “Old guys can't start a trend. You need kids.”

        That's why Doug will do anything — including carrying a flag across town — to generate interest in putting America's youth on bicycles.

        He founded a kids' cycling division of the Queen City Wheels Bicycle Racing Club. He coaches cycling at the Countryside YMCA in Lebanon. And, he's always hoping more bike-riding coaches call him at 583-8437 to volunteer.

        More coaches will help him expand the program into the inner city.

        “Cycling teaches discipline and selfless teamwork,” he said. Those skills play well in any neighborhood.

        “We're just a little puny program now,” he added. “But if more kids experience the beauty and exhilaration of riding a bike, we won't be little forever.”

        Doug's zeal is infectious. He even had me thinking of putting some air in my old Schwinn's tires and taking that bike for a spin.

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.
       A USPS Pro Cycling Team flag, autographed by team members, will be given away July 21. Entry forms are at Cincinnati post offices. Or, send name, address and phone number to: Tour de France Flag Contest, P.O. Box 141151, Cincinnati, OH 45250.


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