Mark Kennedy: Soddy-Daisy cycler passes 100,000 miles on his bicycle

Mark Kennedy, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·3 min read

Apr. 4—Putting 100,000 miles on an automobile is nothing special.

According to Carfax the average vehicle odometer reading in the United States is 95,000 miles, and nearly 118 million cars on the road today have already logged more than 100,000 miles.

But bicycles hitting the 100,000-mile mark — that's another matter.

Tom Jamison, a 67-year-old retired TVA project manager living in Soddy-Daisy, figures he has peddled 160,000-to-170,000 miles on bicycles since retiring over a decade ago.

Jamison said at least 100,000 of those miles have been on one bike, a Trek 520 touring bike, which has been his go-to two-wheeler for cross-country trips in recent years.

Touring bikes are a little sturdier than regular road bikes. They are built of thicker steel to support side bags to carry gear over long distances.

When Jamison retired from TVA at age 50 in 2004 he almost immediately jumped on a bike to pedal over 500 miles to Orlando, Florida, for a vacation with his daughter. He has never looked back.

"We do two or three trips a year," said Jamison, who has a couple of riding buddies. "I even peddled to Hampton, Virginia, for a high school reunion. They were in amazement."

Jamison said he bought his first bike as an adult in 1997 but didn't begin to rack up serious mileage until he retired. He keeps up with his mileage on a computer spreadsheet, and he doesn't even bother counting short trips with his grandkids.

Jamison said he got divorced in his 30s and worked a high-stress job at TVA, sometimes logging 75 to 80 hours a week. He decided he needed to improve his health, and for years found his outlets in recreational running and racquetball before switching to cycling.

He generally rides three day a week, he said, and calculates he has logged more than 10,000 miles a year each year for more than a decade.

Besides staying in shape, Jamison said all that biking has another side benefit.

"I can eat a lot of food and never gain any weight," he said. "My current heart doctor is retiring. He tells me all the time how he brags about me to other patients."

Jamison, who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, said his weight is consistently about 152 pounds, down from an adult high of 176 pounds years ago.

He said he uses his biking hobby to spend time with his grandchildren, often taking them along on bike trips, sometimes using a tandem bike to pedal cross-country.

He has 18 bikes in his collection now, he said. He is associated with the Chattanooga Bicycle Club.

Asked if he has another 100,000 miles in him, Jamison said he has decided to keep riding and to re-evaluate his hobby when he turns 70 years old.

"I'm not as fast [on a bike] as I used to be," he said. "I'm getting where I need lower gears."

Still, Jamison said, he tells his grandkids, "I'm the youngest old man I know."

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.