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Bill Walton’s Bike: ‘My gym, my wheelchair, and my church’

by Ted Johnson

Bill Walton and I have a lot in common. We both have red hair. His middle name is Theodore. People think my first name is Theodore (but it’s not). We’re both less than seven feet tall. And… and… We both have friends who follow basketball.

Bill Walton

Walton with the Portland Trail Blazers (1974–1979) | Photo: Hoopedia

Thanks to my high school friends’ incessant yammering about NBA basketball, I actually recognized the name Bill Walton when, at Virtual Roadkill San Diego, I read this account of a bike blogger’s brush with greatness at a YMCA swimming pool:

After mentioning the improvements that have occurred since the first bike he rode as a five-year-old, he said of his current bike:

“It’s my gym, my wheelchair and my church.”

That comment stuck with me throughout the next week, and when I saw Bill again last Friday I asked if I could quote him on it. I expected his agreement, but did not expect what came next. He reiterated his earlier comment with a tone of complete gravity and sincerity that drew me in despite my time limits. “My bike is my gym, my wheelchair, and my church all in one.” Then he went on, enthusiastically describing his biking experience.

Bill Walton 2008

Bill Walton in 2008 | Photo: Wikipedia

“I love my bike,” Bill said. “It’s the most important THING in my life.” As someone who presumably owns a fair amount of things, this seemed a bold statement. So although I was crouched, dripping-wet on the YMCA pool deck and about to risk running late for work, I felt compelled to see what else Bill Walton had to say about biking.

I was not disappointed. He went on to say “There are only two things I don’t like about my bike. One is I don’t get to ride it enough. The other is…when I get back from a long ride, my wife says ‘Hey, big boy…remember I wasn’t a part of that 8-hour conversation you were just having.’”

[...]

He went on to address the motorist/biker relationship. “Drivers should show more respect for bicyclists. When you’re driving and you see someone on a bike, slow down and move away. Even a little easing off the gas and a little move makes a big difference.”

Bicycling.com also interviewed Walton this year on his life as a cyclist.

 
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3 Responses to “Bill Walton’s Bike: ‘My gym, my wheelchair, and my church’”

  1. I’ve ridden in two events that Bill Walton was riding in. A true gentleman. Always a pleasure to see him out on the road.

  2. BluesCat says:

    Hey! Bill Walton and I have a lot more in common than I thought, too!

    In addition to loving basketball and having foot problems, my bikes are “my gym, my wheelchair and …” (especially) ” … my church” also!

    Plantar faciitis put me on the sidelines for almost a year before I bought my Giant. Hiking has been replaced with recreational riding, and day touring has replaced backpacking.

  3. Matt says:

    I sometimes forget that I didn’t always ride for recreation & exercise. A very bad motorcycle accident many years ago left me with a badly disfigured & painful leg injury. Consequently my favorite past time of hiking came to an end for many years. Then about 15 years ago I bought a mountain bike & hiking became but a distant memory.

    Thanks for the article.

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