She joined the local bicycle club in the 1970s because her teenage son wanted
to go on our 100 mile ride. She got a membership card for Johnny and asked,
“Is there a club for people our age?” I was flattered because I’m much
older. I told her that Booneslick Bicycle Club was for all ages and that the
up-coming “century” ride would include a youngster about 12, a blind man
riding on the back of his family’s tandem, lots of teenage riders like her son
-- and older riders almost 60 -- I including me. We soon became good friends.
June and John Thaden met me for a training ride and, as soon as I described
the route, John took off like a flash. I bit my tongue to keep from telling
June that her bike was a heavy old clunker. It was a three-speed with fenders,
kick stand and two big wire baskets. She was no newcomer to bicycling, but she
had needed those baskets more than she needed lightweight equipment like
We started at a slow pace and I soon discovered that she maneuvered that heavy
thing quite well. We rode together three more times that week.
On the morning of the 100-mile ride, June brought Johnny to Eastgate parking
lot to join the group and get instructions for safety, for the route, etc.
“I’ll ride out with you and then turn back,” she said. She did that, except
that she didn’t turn back! At Fulton, she said, “I’ll go a little farther.”
At Portland, she had a pain in her knee. We rested.
At Williamsburg, when I begged her to get in the “Sag Wagon” truck with
Chub, she said, “The knee has limbered up a bit,” and kept going. Later she
claimed that “Sue talked me through those last fifty miles!” The next day
she went shopping for a bike like mine. That was just the beginning of June
Thaden’s dedication to the sport of bicycling.
She was an outstanding leader in our Booneslick Bicycle Club and, when she
moved to Traverse City, Mich., she helped start a club that is now one of the
most active in the United States. A few years later she was Michigan’s
bicyclist of the year. Now she’s the national president of the League of
Her recent letter explained that she retired from her position as a librarian
in order to dedicate her efforts to the league, known as LAB. To finance their
many services to the sport, LAB sponsors an annual “Pedal for Power”
fund-raising tour from the West Coast to the East. This year’s ride will begin
June 19 in Seattle and end Aug. 2 in Asbury Park, N.J., 48 days later. Why
will the petite LAB president attempt such a grueling ride? Because she firmly
believes, as I do, that “Bicycling can help heal a lot of America’s physical
and social problems” and that this strong national organization is “the way
to put our convictions into action.”
Want to go along? It’s a northern route that includes Washington, Idaho,
Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West
Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That’s 3,453.3 miles of spinning those
Can’t join the tour but wish to promote the idea of helping to solve physical
and social ills? Send a check to: Pedal for Power, PO Box 2088, Westminster,
Md., attention president June Thaden.
With my check, I sent June a postage stamp size mug shot to slip into her
saddlebags. Maybe this will help “talk her through those last 50 miles.”