HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- As a seasoned philosopher. Norman Malchert searches for answers.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between the mind and brain,” said Norm. “What is there? How should we live?”
Like the greats before him, the retired professor and author ponders life and the universe around him.
“It’s hard to improve upon Plato and Aristotle,” said Norm. “How do we know and how do we know it?”
But one burning question still captivates.
“Where to next?”
The Henrico man’s passion is cycling.
“I love being on the bike. It is one of the great pleasures of my life,” explained Norm.
He discovered the sport late in life.
“I love it so much that since I started riding at the age of 42, I have ridden 139,000 miles,” said Norm.
That’s like riding around the earth five and a half times.
“I keep track. Yeah. I keep track,” said Norm.
The senior cyclist’s adventures have led him to the four corners, but Norm is incorporating a new regimen on the road.
“I started it when I was 67,” said Norm.
In 2000, Norm was riding with his friend Ray when a tradition was born.
“It just sounded like a good idea and I enjoyed doing it. Now that it has started, I hate to stop,” said Norm.
On his birthday every September 1, Norm goes the distance. This year?
“I rode my age which is 85,” said Norm.
Norm rode 85 miles on his birthday.
Norm’s supportive wife, Novi, supports her husband’s pedaling pursuits.
“I was very proud of him. I still am,” said Novi “I couldn’t praise him more. He is very kind and thoughtful.”
Sons Andy and Steve agree their father’s inner drive inspires.
“No wasted energy. Very smooth,” said Andy. “He has set bars very high that we don’t think we’ll ever reach. He is an amazing guy.”
What pushes Norm to prolong his birthday bike rides?
“Bragging rights I suppose,” exclaimed Norm.
Bragging rights aside, Norm cherishes his time on a cycle willed to him by his late friend Ray who passed away 11 years ago.
“There are a lot of memories with the bike. It means a lot to me,” said Norm. “He was a good friend and a good cyclist. I miss him. Yeah.”
As the 85-year-old bikes through the years and over hill and dale, a question lingers.
Just how long does he plan on riding? The philosopher says he will keep chasing the answer.
“Next year it will be 86,” said Norm. “Not bad for an old man.”
“I love it. Feels great. I love it,” said Norm. "One of my favorite things of all time.”
All while celebrating a birthday tradition that truly cranks.
“I tell people sometimes that I’m looking forward to the century ride. The 100-mile-ride. That is a joke!”
If you know of someone with an interesting story to tell email Greg McQuade.