Cyclist for all Seasons – Mark Wheeler, M.D (ret.)

Born and raised on the West Coast, Mark practiced medicine in Portland, Oregon for 30 years then moved to Maine and lived for twenty-two years in Woolwich before moving to Bath. Mark first started riding, like most of us, about the age of 8. After experimenting with running, but having seen so many patients with blown-out knees from the sport, he decided biking was infinitely safer and better on the body. He got into biking seriously in 1994 and in 1996 rode across America. This cemented his love of the bicycle (and also gained him many new friends.) There’s nothing like experiencing this great land at 10 miles an hour in the company of like-minded people, meeting people along the way, and absorbing the incredible landscape. What can you see at 70-mph on an Interstate? He has also made it a point of really seeing the state of Maine having participated in every one of the annual BikeMaine five-day rides through some part of the state.

Since the 1990s he has made it a mission to introduce other people to the joys of riding (and as a result has made many more new friends.) In Maine beginning in 1999, he and another avid rider began leading bicycle trips to the Hudson Valley and on a “Four Island” trip in Maine for a company, Bike Escapades. For the past decade he has planned and led Saturday morning and Tuesday rides for cyclists of mixed abilities, rides which range from 20-30 miles, taking advantage of the marvelous rural road network around Bath, Brunswick, and Wiscasset always with a stop for coffee, a treat, and good camaraderie.

In the meantime, he “interns” at the Bath Bike and Ski shop in Woolwich and has added to his medical skills a very handy competence in bike repair. For those who ride with him there’s nothing like the security of having a physician and mechanic along.

Some years back, Mark began collecting unwanted bicycles for the Community Bicycle Center of Biddeford which provides some good life skills for kids by teaching them bike building and bike repair and giving them a chance to earn a bike. More recently he has been fixing up appropriate bikes himself and delivering them to Catholic Charities of Maine, the state organization authorized by the federal government to manage the settlement of refugees and asylum-seekers. Bikes provide essential transportation.

Mark has also been a strong supporter of the state-wide bicycling advocacy group, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, and is a member of their “Yellow Jersey” group.

When asked, “What’s important about bicycling to you,” he replied, “The most gratifying thing is the pleasure of moving along and being part of the landscape, not whizzing by at 50 mph. I enjoy greeting folks along the way, stopping to check something of interest, and especially sharing the experience with fellow riders.

“I’m tired of cars. I hope that people will come to their senses and live in communities where they can walk or take a short bike ride to their usual destinations—grocery store, pharmacy, restaurant, doctor’s office, or friend’s house and Bath is a great example of the kind of place where such a life style is possible.”