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Going The Extra Mile

Longtime Mayville Resident Rides For Charity, Sport

Pictured is longtime Mayville resident Galen Zook, a bicycle enthusiast who has raised money for charity and is currently taking part in the 48th Register’s annual Great Ride Across Iowa. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

During one of our recent drives in Chautauqua County, our path was crossed more than once by a bicyclist that we won’t soon forget.

The first time we ran into (not literally) Galen Zook on that sunny day, we had been to Luensman Overview Park in the town of Portland. Down the road a ways we passed a stream that was trickling through a pasture from out of the roadside bank. I asked my husband to stop the vehicle in order to take a picture.

We try to always be aware of our surroundings, therefore I noticed a man on a bicycle coming down the country road from behind and drew it to my husband’s attention, who was still sitting behind the steering wheel. After I turned back to the scene I had intended to capture with my iPhone, I could hear the man’s radio as he passed behind me.

As we continued down the road, we saw the man again. This time we approached him from behind. My traveling companion asked if I had noticed the man’s flags. I hadn’t looked at him when he was near, so I tried to casually glance as we passed and got a quick view of his helmet which had three small American flags affixed to it.

After driving into Hartfield, we crossed Route 430 onto Mill Street. We observed a Blue Heron majestically standing at the edge of Hartfield Bay and then found ourselves on Sea Lion Drive. At the point where Little Inlet crossed under the road, I again asked my chauffeur to pull over.

As I was taking a picture of the little swollen brook winding back and forth between two homes, I saw the man in the flag-adorned helmet approach on my left.

I could no longer contain my curiosity. I held out my hand, giving him the halt signal. With a smile on his face, he complied. When I got a closer look, I saw a red helmet with a tall, purple mohawk down the center and the little flags positioned on three sides. The man was wearing a Roswell Extra Mile Club jersey, red fingerless gloves and blue shoes and was perched on a red bike with two more flags taped to the handlebars. Red, white and blue streamers hung from each end of the handlebar.

I learned his name was Galen Zook. He had earned the jersey for raising at least $1,000 for the Ride For Roswell, which allowed him to be a member of the Extra Mile Club. This year will be the ninth year he will ride in the annual fundraiser for the cancer center, which has been postponed to Aug. 7 rather being held the end of June as is usual. For seven years, he was one of the 250 riders who rode two-by-two over the 12 miles from Roswell to the State University of New York at Buffalo campus, while cheering spectators lined the streets.

He not only enjoys wearing eye-catching outfits for his local rides, but changes his colors each year for the Roswell ride. One year he dyed his beard pink and Velcroed a pink mohawk to his helmet. He went all out the next year with a blue beard and mohawk.

Whatever could be changed to blue on his bike was changed, such as the tires, handlebar wrap, water bottle and water bottle cage. He wore a blue jersey and matching shorts that had the Bible verse John 3:16 and a picture of Jesus on them. He used to remove the mohawk from his helmet, but found people enjoy seeing it, so he now just changes the colors.

The 58-year old rides an average of 100 miles per week. Weather and his Lincare work schedule are the only two things that keep him from riding. He is driving to Iowa to attend the 48th Register’s annual Great Ride Across Iowa (RAGRAI), a 400-450 mile course that begins Sunday and ends July 31. This will be the second time he has participated in the event.

Zook has lived in Mayville his entire life, with the exception of 17 years served with the U.S. Navy.

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