MOUNT VERNON — The expression, “Pain is just weakness leaving your body,” is often used by cycling enthusiast and Mount Vernon business owner John Hatfield. The septuagenarian still puts in a full schedule at work, while finding time for his cycling passion.
Hatfield shares his enthusiasm for bicycling with his friend, Greg Phillips, who took up the sport 10 years ago.
“It was kind of a mutual thing,” said Phillips, who lives in Plain City. “(Hatfield) inspired me to take up cycling and, over the years, between the two of us, we have come up with ideas for cycling adventures.”
Around the same time, they were also joined by Hatfield’s brother-in-law, Keith Linnabary from Cardington.
“(Cycling) does so much for your heart and lungs and there’s no impact damage,” said Linnabary. “It was John that got me interested.”
“The Mount Vernon Trio,” as Phillips has dubbed himself and his comrades, has cranked out many miles of riding in events ranging from a day to as much as a week.
On July 17, the three took old U.S. 40 across the neighboring state of Indiana from Terra Haute, eastbound to Richmond on the Ohio line in the annual RAIN or Ride Across Indiana. They completed the broiling 160-mile trek in 12 hours and 15 minutes.
“It was hot,” said Hatfield, now 73. “It was 90 to 105. What I do is wear rags on top of my head to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I try to. I pour water on that. I also take a hand towel, soak it in water and wrap it around my neck. At every stop, I’d pour water on both of them and pour water on my head, going down the road to keep me cool.”
Even the younger members of the trio knew that traversing the Hoosier State in a single day would be a stretch.
“With the heat, when you’re moving, your OK,” said Phillips. “When you’re stopped, you feel like your face is about to slide off your head. I drink lots of fluid — more fluid than I can handle — even if I don’t feel thirsty.”
It wasn’t just the heat.
“The other big challenge was getting around Indianapolis,” said Hatfield. “The first rest stop is 42 miles. We were there for two hours and 45 minutes. The next rest stop is at 62 miles and the lunch stop is at 91.”