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It's all about the journey as well as the destination
For bike rider Dennis Scales:
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Dennis Scales on his bike is a familiar sight around Martinsville and other cities miles away. (Bulletin photo by Holly Kozelsky)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

There’s nothing Dennis Scales would rather do than ride his bike.

It’s fun, it’s convenient, and it beats having a car hands-down, he said, adding, “I live to bike, and I bike to live.”

Scales, 48, has been riding a bike since he grew up in Fieldale, and “I never did stop,” he said. He does it “every single day as an adult.”

When it comes to distance, “Eden, Madison — I call that local” and an easy bike ride, he said. He’s been riding his bike those distances for at least 10 years without giving it a second thought.

Recently he rode his bike to Louisville, Ky., just because he wanted to see that area. It took him three days to get there and three to get back.

There’s no room or time for stress on a bike ride, Scales said. Especially in today’s economy, “stress is still at the forefront of people’s lives,” he said. He recommends riding a bike for both mental and physical relief.

Also, “you’d be surprised what you can see riding a bike.” You can enjoy scenery that just “whizzes by” if viewed from a car window.

Scales should know about stress. He was laid off work in 2009 and hasn’t found a job since. However, for him even looking for a job is fun. He rides his bike to the places he submits applications — cities away.

He lived in Winchester from 2003-2009 and worked for a refrigerated foods company. He came to prefer riding his bike those 6 miles to work and back again. His car mostly sat idle.

“They had some marvelous trails down there,” Scales said. He would ride his bike to the trails, leave the bike locked and go for a run. “I used to be an avid jogger.”

All of that changed in 2006, when both of his knees began swelling. “I was devastated when I heard the diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis,” he said.

“The pounding you take from running” was too hard on his knees, so that’s when he went to biking exclusively.

He had “intermittent pain” in his legs and took ibuprofen occasionally to relieve it.

When he was laid off from his job, he moved back to Martinsville. That was just when the Dick and Willie trail was getting started, and he was thrilled to discover it. “I love that thing,” he said.

One day he rode with his brother, Steven André Scales of Carver Road, to Danville and back. On the return trip, “Lo and behold, about a mile down the road I saw the place that changed my life,” Dennis Scales said.

It was the O.F. Newman bike shop. He stopped and looked and ended up buying a Raleigh bike.

That was quite a switch for a lifelong Schwinn man, but the smooth ride and “quality and craftsmanship” of the Raleigh won him over. “You would have to ride this thing to see what I’m talking about,” he said, grinning from ear to ear.

At the end of August, he rode his bike to Lynchburg to look for work. It was an 11-hour ride there, and he planned to continue to Charlottesville after that. When he rides those distances, he’ll usually stay overnight at a Salvation Army or shelter.

On that trip, his laptop computer was stolen from the locker he was using. “I was hurt, but I didn’t let it get me down,” he said. He continued with his trip to Charlottesville, 54 miles further on.

Meanwhile, police caught the suspected thief, who also allegedly had Scales’ cell phone and chargers. “He was a seven-time felon,” Scales said. Scales expects to ride his bike back to Lynchburg “when I receive summons” for the court case.

Meanwhile, since he returned to Martinsville in 2009, he never drove the car he brought back with him. He finally sold it earlier this year.

“I don’t need a car. I really don’t,” he said.

Scales doesn’t mind riding his bike in the heat or cold. He’s not entirely against riding in the rain, either, but he usually plans his long rides for sunny days.

He checks weather reports regularly, even while on long rides. He brings his laptop with him for checking weather and other reports, and doesn’t mind stopping over in restaurants or public buildings in other towns waiting for fairer weather.

Scales attributes his energy and fortune to living a drug- and alcohol-free life. He hopes to be a role model to his god-daughters, Cyanna Bulgin, 14, and Cansez Bulgin, 9, the children of his longtime friends Crainston and Carlissa Bulgin of Blackberry.

“I don’t never do it,” he added, “and I’m proud to say it.”

Kenneth Lucas, the senior pastor of Freedom Fellowship Ministries and the father-in-law of Scales’ niece, said he continually is impressed with Scales. He finds both Scales’ riding abilities and his positive attitude to be inspiring.

“He went to Louisville, Ky., and I compared myself to (Lucas’ bike riding on) the Dick and Willie Trail,” Lucas laughed, shaking his head.

Lucas envisions Scales riding in fundraising bike rides or bike-a-thons and has been collecting information for him.

“When I got to bed at night, I can’t wait to get on that Raleigh” the next day, Scales said.

“I’m enjoying life, I really am,” he said “It’s just me, so why not?”


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