CGP Community Stories

Dennis Savoie, November 16, 2009

Title

Dennis Savoie, November 16, 2009

Subject

Cooperstown
general internist
medicine
community
Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital
bicycling, bicycle, bike
Cranks from Cooperstown: Fifty Bikes Rides in Upstate New York
self-contained, self-supported bicycling
stealth camping
National Parks
New England
advocacy
ORCA (Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates)
Complete Streets
Safe Routes to School
League of American Bicyclists
New York Bicycling Coalition
League Cycling Instructor (LCI)

Description

Dennis Savoie was born on April 12, 1945 in Putnam, Connecticut. He moved to Cooperstown in 1971 for a two-year internship as a part of his general internist degree. After his internship, Savoie worked at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital and raised his family in the Cooperstown community. He participated in many activities with his three sons, one of which led him to a passion that has defined and outlined his life: self-supported, self-contained bicycling. After more than 100,000 miles, Savoie has seen much of the Northeast, Canada, and the National Parks of the West from the seat of his bicycle. In addition to writing a successful book about bicycling, Cranks from Cooperstown: Fifty Bike Rides in Upstate New York, Savoie has spearheaded bicycle advocacy in Otsego County and New York State. He is a founding member of the Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates. Savoie’s recollections trace changes in the practice of medicine, bicycling, and the village of Cooperstown over a forty-year period. Some of the most interesting material in the interview consists of Savoie’s explanation of his central role in two large movements: the shift in medicine towards outpatient treatment and health promotion, and environmental conservation through bicycle education.

Creator

Cassie Mundt

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York- College at Oneonta

Date

2009-11-16

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
30.1 MB
audio/mpeg
27.9 MB
audio/mpeg
22.4 MB
image/jpeg
3.6 MB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

10-090

Coverage

Cooperstown, NY
1945-2009

Interviewer

Cassie Mundt

Interviewee

Dennis Savoie

Location

Cooperstown, NY

Transcription

DS = Dennis Savoie
CM = Cassie Mundt

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

CM:
This is the November 16, 2009 interview of Dennis Savoie by Cassie Mundt conducted at Dennis’s residence in Cooperstown, New York. Dennis, can you please state your full name for me.
DS:
Dennis Savoie, that’s S-A-V-O-I-E.
CM:
Excellent. And when were you born?
DS:
April 12, 1945.
CM:
Alright, and where?
DS:
Putnam, Connecticut
CM:
How many years have you lived in Cooperstown?
DS:
I’ve been here in Cooperstown almost forty years, 1970-ish.
CM:
And can you tell me about how you ended up in Cooperstown.
DS:
I can. At the time I was in medical school at the University of Vermont in Burlington. And as I was finishing my medical school training, the next step was to arrange for interviews at various hospitals to do post-graduate training. Back in those days we called it internship, now it is called PGY1, post graduate year one, or first year of residency. So, after you get your MD degree you then interview at various hospital programs to do continuing practical education in the hospital environment. I was scheduled to interview at a few hospitals with training programs in Pennsylvania, Hershey if I remember right, and a few other places and my advisor at that time mentioned Cooperstown, Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital’s training program as something that I should consider thinking that this particular location would fit my style and personality. He knew I enjoyed outdoors activities and he knew I gravitated more toward a rural environment than an urban one. And Bassett Hospital had a wonderful reputation as one of the three Marys. Probably a lot of people don’t know about the three Marys, but in the Northeast there are three, let me use the word rural, medical training facilities. The first being Mary Fletcher Unit Hospital at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Burlington being the largest of the small cities, the second being Mary Hitchcock at Dartmouth in Hanover, and the third Mary is Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital here in Cooperstown, the teaching program affiliated with Columbia. So the three Marys are at UVM, Dartmouth, and Cooperstown affiliation with Columbia. So my advisor recommended that I consider stopping by Cooperstown and interviewing here. I can still remember the first day having never been here before, that I drove down the west lake road seeing Lake Otsego for the first time driving into Cooperstown and just shaking my head, I can remember this distinctly, and saying out loud all alone to myself in the car, “I’m home.” It was just an automatic sense of belonging that this was where I should be. And that feeling continued as I interviewed here. The type of patient care, the type of general internist doctors that were here on staff, all shared my hope for the way I would practice medicine when I got all grown up and got fully trained. And it just seemed like a match made in heaven to the point where I aborted my other interviews and went back and put Cooperstown as the number one on my list that I wanted to match with. And apparently, they put me high on their list too because I was matched to come here for my training program. That’s pretty much how I got involved with Cooperstown; I came here in 1971 after graduating from medical school.
CM:
And you have been here ever since?
DM:
Been here ever since, except for two service years. So I was here for one year in 1971 to 1972, academic years, June to June, for my internship year in the hospital. And then, this was back in the Vietnam era, so some service was expected of me. I belonged to the public health service at that time and rather than go to Vietnam, I was instead triaged to rural Tennessee, a county that had one physician for the whole county who had been there for ten years and was getting kind of burned out. So I went to join him after one year of postgraduate training. That’s when I really grew up in terms of medical practice. [laughing] Because you have to understand that back then postgraduate training in medicine was hospital based. There was no outpatient medicine program to speak of anywhere. You learned how to practice medicine in a hospital environment and then if you were to go into the practice of medicine in a community, you sort of had to learn that different style on your own. That changed and we can get to that as we talk some more, but at least at that time when I went to Tennessee I knew how to take care of people who were sick in the hospital, but I had to learn how to take care of people as an outpatient basis, which is more preventative medicine concerned, screening for the presence of diseases that have not yet presented its symptoms. It is a different style of medicine that was not the way that medicine was being taught back in the 1970s. In fact, that experience, realizing that I had been a well trained hospital based physician, but not well trained to practice medicine in a community, made me a much better physician-in-training when I returned after those two service years and realized where medical training had been missing the boat so to speak. In fact, back then there were no sub-specialists to speak of, or I should say, there were few sub-specialists back in the 1970s. The communities actually still had general practitioners, who are now a dying breed. Back then we had, I can remember, two general practitioners. One was Walter Luft who practiced medicine in Milford and the other was Steffy Baker, a female physician, a very rare breed in the 1970s, who practiced medicine in Hartwick, two small communities outside of Cooperstown. The hospital-based physicians were general internists; they were the specialists of the time. So to be a general practitioner, you would go to a small community and stay there for your life doing not only adult medicine, but pediatrics, Ob Gyn, general surgery, you would do the whole thing. And as medical knowledge progressed over the decades, it became harder and harder to be a general practitioner. There was too much to know and do and so the general internists became king. The general internist was the hospital trained adult physician who had had two or three additional years of training to be the person that the general practitioner would turn to when he couldn’t figure out a particular diagnostic problem. So we were the specialists, we who were working in the community based, not the community based, but the teaching based hospitals. The general internist at that time truly was the king, he was in charge of medical specialties and early in the course of the 1970s some subspecialists were beginning what the cardiologists for example already in existence, but rheumatology for example was not yet a subspecialty, it was a little baby segment of allergy believe it or not. And so what the general internists here at Cooperstown were doing was, they were keeping up as adult physicians, they were keeping up with the literature in certain sub-segments of adult medicine so remember for example Bob Sioussat, who now deceased, one of my mentors, who was not only a very intelligent general internist,
[TRACK 1, 10:00]
but he also sub-specialized, he kept up with the literature on neurology because there were no neurologists yet. Bill Mook, also now deceased, another excellent general internist, kept up on the literature for endocrinology because there were no endocrinologists. John Davis, who is still around and living in Cooperstown, but now retired, was a general internist who also did gastroenterology.
CM:
Oh wow.
DM:
Let’s see, Emory Herman still lives in Cooperstown, but now retired. He did two; he did hematology/oncology, and pulmonary. Don Pollock who still lives in Cooperstown, now retired, not only ran the emergency room as a general internist, so he had had some emergency training but he was also the hospital’s dermatologist. So, we had the waterfront covered, but it wasn’t until I would say the mid ‘70s or the late ‘70s, and I am guessing at the timing here, when real sub-specialists, trained sub-specialists, started coming not just to Cooperstown, but nationwide. So that as time went by the general internist doing general medicine was now referring to subspecialists. And the whole system started changing. When I came back after my service years, my sub-specialty within general medicine went in two different directions. One, I realized that we were not training doctors who knew how to practice outpatient medicine and not just Cooperstown, the whole country and that didn’t make sense to me and I had just spent two years the hard way learning how to practice community medicine by being there, baptism by fire sort of thing. So, I came back with a desire to start a program where we would train medical students and medical residents how to practice medicine outside the hospital environment and my timing was perfect because Bob Sioussat, my main mentor and the general internist who was also neurologist, had also come to the same conclusion that it was time. And we sort of began teaching outpatient medicine before it became a nationwide craze. We started what we called the ambulatory clinic and we had third and fourth year medical students rotating through from Columbia, as well as our first, second, and third year medical residents rotating through to take care of patients on an outpatient setting, in addition to their duties learning how to take care of people who are sick and in the hospital. That was a new idea at the time. Now you say well, you know, everybody’s got an outpatient clinic and all medical schools teach their students how to be outpatient doctors but that wasn’t the climate back then in the ‘70s. Part of the reason, it made sense to do it, but part of the reason it happened was because it started becoming too expensive to be taking care of people in the hospital and so the people who wanted, they being the insurance people, who wanted to start making costs come down a little bit, or their costs come down, started having an interest in outpatient medicine happening. I can remember the days back in the early ‘70s where executive physicals would happen. Where somebody who was important at the top of a company would actually be admitted to the hospital while healthy for two or three days to have all kinds of tests done to make sure that they were as healthy as they looked. This was before another concept was developed of what is appropriate medical screening. Appropriate medical screening back in those days where you did every test you knew how to spell every year to make sure there was nothing wrong. It didn’t take into consideration well if you found something that was wrong, could you do something about it? Is this test the right one to perform on somebody? For example, we were doing yearly chest x-rays on people looking for cancer of the lung. And it took a while for people to realize that by the time they could see it on the chest x-ray, it was too late. So, it wasn’t a good screening test. You got there too late to do anything good about it. So there was a whole culture that had to change, not only about how do you test, but what do you test at what frequency for what purpose. So outpatient medicine was a new concept to teach, screening for the presence of illness that you could do something about was a new thing to teach, and the shift away from an inpatient to an outpatient based teaching practice was something that was new. So that’s where when I came back, part of my let’s call it sub-specializing within general medicine occurred that Bob Sioussat and I started our ambulatory clinics to be teaching interns, residents, and medical students how to practice medicine outside the hospital environment, how to do preventive care, how to screen for the presence of illness before people got sick, all things that you take for granted now that we had to invent from scratch back then. The second place where my practice sub-specialized was in the developmentally disabled. My wife and I had actually met working with retarded children at an institution in Connecticut and I continued that interest in the earlier part of my life into my medical practice and took care of adult retarded people for the 35 years that I was practicing. All the while through that the shift in medicine became more and more to outpatient mainly because of cost problems and a sad thing that happened to general internists who, back in the ‘70s, had been the king at the top of the pile is that they, we slowly became insurance front men. Since all of the sub-specialists had developed and the sub-specialists tended to do a lot of tests, which were expensive, the insurance companies had an interest in having as few sub-specialists and tests involved as possible, because it was costing them too much money. So, the general internist who was everybody’s doctor became what they called the gatekeeper. Your job was to keep people away from specialists unless they really needed it, so if you came in and said I got this thing, I’ve got this rash, I want to go see the dermatologist, well if it was something that I could handle, that you didn’t need a sub-specialist for I would have to say no you can’t go there and then do all kinds of paperwork to tell you why you couldn’t go there. It changed the face of modern medicine when that started happening where the thoughtful guy, the trained guy, the intelligent guy, became the guy who was shuffling insurance companies’ papers. Over the period of thirty or forty years, the general internist went from the top of the heap to the guy who was the least paid, and, in many ways, the least appreciated. Which was sort of a sad thing to watch happen, as money became the be all and end all. That was probably the most dramatic thing that I watched happen in all those thirty or forty years of practice. Of course, while all of this is going on, I have a personal private life as well. I’ve got a young family that’s growing up. Actually, it was almost a big milestone. I almost did something that nobody else has done. I made reference to the three Marys before. Well my first son Matthew was born at Mary Fletcher when I was in medical school. So, he was born in Burlington, Vermont at one of the three Marys. My second son Benjamin, who now lives here in Cooperstown with my grandkids, but my second son was born here at Mary Imogene Bassett in Cooperstown so he was born at the second Mary. My third son John was born here too when we came back from the Tennessee years, my service years. Part of me always said I should have gone to Dartmouth for part of my sub-specialty, general internal medicine training so I could have had my third kid born at the third Mary because I don’t think anybody has ever done that, had a kid born at each of the three. That would have been quite an accomplishment. But, as my young family was growing up,
[TRACK 1, 20:00]
my extracurricular activities away from medicine became very family oriented and things that stick out particularly were again, the thing that has changed, back in the 1970s for kids in the seven to nine year old group for example to play soccer. Soccer was a sport that was hardly known in our culture at that time. But, Oneonta had a league going that was started by the J.C.’s, the Junior Chamber, and predominantly my wife, I was going to say my wife and I, but it was predominantly my wife, got soccer as an activity for the kids of our community hooked up with the Oneonta group. And so I became the seven to nine year old soccer coach.
CM:
Really?
DM:
My son who was seven at the time, now forty, is not only the head of the science department at his high school in Rhode Island, but he’s also the varsity soccer coach. So, he went a long way with that training. And as he got a little older and as my other kids got a little older, I was also the local Boy Scout leader and I bring that up particularly because it is a nice segue way into how I got into bicycling as an adult. Back then, as my kids were growing up, I think like everybody else who starts getting into the middle years, I started realizing that I was gaining weight without really trying and working too many hours and blah blah blah and had to start taking some of my own general medical internal advice and start taking care of myself. So I started jogging as a sport or as an activity for self-care only to find that I was twisting that or wrenching those or hurting some place it seemed most of the time and it took me a few years to discover my wife’s bike. I remember it was an old Mixte frame in the garage and saying, “you know, I haven’t been on a bike since I was a kid, let me go out for a ride” and felt like a little kid again. It was just the most magical experience to be back on a bike, not knowing an awful lot about how to do it anymore. But, my adult bicycling career pretty much got started because jogging was hurting me. And then after a few years of doing special trips with the boy scouts where we were doing backpacking, Appalachian trail, that sort of thing, one year we decided that the following summer we were going to go bicycle the coast of Maine as a special activity and we spent a whole year with a program designed with the Scouts for learning how to repair bicycles, how to bike in a group, all of the things that, that it was the first time I got into bicycling education. And the first person I had to educate was myself because back then, this is pre-internet days by the way, almost pre-computer days by the way, at least pre-home computer days, finding out information about how to do things was a little bit more challenging than you might think. There were not an awful lot of how-to bicycle books at that time. And it took some doing to find the information to learn how to do all that. But, we did and we had one of those fantastic memorable times. This was 25 years ago now and all those 11 to 16 year olds are now lawyers, and orthopedic surgeons, and heads of science departments, but when we get together they will still bring up the magic of that summer that we biked the coast of Maine. And I can remember the day up in the front of this line of sixteen teenage cyclists behind me; I can remember the day of saying, “my goodness this is just so much fun with all those kids” and then my brain saying back, “yeah but think how much fun it would be without them.” [laughing] And that’s pretty much, that instant thought was what started me on my own bicycle touring career and I’ve basically been doing self-contained, self-supported bicycle touring ever since. So, it was really the Scouts that for me as an adult introduced me to an activity that has become a life passion. That was a lot of bicycling miles to go to get into bicycle touring. Self-contained, self-supported means that you don’t have a van carrying your gear, you carry your gear on the bike: your tent, your sleeping bag, your saddle bags called panniers where you carry your camping equipment. It’s in effect a bike-packing as opposed to backpacking and you stay on back roads and you explore an area and sleep in the woods at night or at campgrounds. And in doing so, I have not only biked the coast of Maine, but inland Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont and eventually branched out to the west to explore some of our wonderful National Parks like Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the entire Sierra Nevada chain from Mt. Shasta down to the California deserts and across that to Big Sur. Most recently, this past fall to southern Utah and Arizona, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, all on a bike and it’s been a wonderful career of exploring back roads and beautiful scenery in that manner. And I’ve got that all to thank to the Scouts. Somewhere along the line, I don’t exactly remember, while I do remember it was while the bike touring was happening and when we, the family, would go on vacation, I would check to see if there was a bicycling tour guide to the area where we were going. And many areas did have such tour guides, so that if we were going on vacation someplace I could bring my bike, the kids could bring our bikes and we would have routes and tours to explore that area by. And it dawned on me that at least in New York state, though there was a tour guide north of us in the Adirondacks and to the east of us in the Hudson Valley and to the west of us in the Finger Lakes and south of us in the Catskills, there was no tour guide to bicycling in the big triangle between Albany, Syracuse, and Binghamton. And Cooperstown was smack dab in the middle of that. I had done enough bicycling exploration to realize that our back roads were just as gorgeous and beautiful if not more so than anybody else’s and it was that realization that got me started on writing Cranks from Cooperstown: Fifty Bike Rides in Upstate New York. About half way through the process, you have to understand this was sort of, part of that was a sort of a midlife thing for me where I had been doctoring for a very long time and part of me needed a new adventure. I will say again this is pretty much pre-computer. Those of us who lived in homes and not in computer networks didn’t, word processor was what secretaries were talking about then. And to write a book at that time meant that you had to become computer literate. That was a whole new skill to learn. How do you get a Library of Congress number? How do you self publish? How do you graphically design such a thing? It was a wonderful project for someone who had no training in any of those areas to go in a new and different direction. But, the other direction it took and one that I never expected, is that as I was writing the book and remember I am a general internist and being a patient’s coach was a big part of my job, you know, control your weight, exercise regularly, eat properly, and what patients were teaching me as I was their coach for all those years is that when it came to exercise it had to be enjoyable or they weren’t going to do it. You could take your doctor’s advice and say,
[TRACK 1, 30:00]
“Okay, I am going to do this this time” and go down in the cellar and run in place on Monday. You might run in place in the cellar on Tuesday, but by Wednesday that was too boring to do for the third time. You weren’t going to do that. So, patients were teaching me that you had to choose something enjoyable if you were going to make it a habit in terms of your lifestyle. And many conversations in the office would start out by, “you know, I know you bike a lot and I would do that too, but I’m afraid of the dogs and I don’t know how to bike in traffic and I can’t get comfortable on that little tiny seat and my bike when I was a kid never had all those gears; I don’t understand the gears,” and I realized that people in our culture were not choosing to bike because they didn’t know how. They had been trained how to ride a bicycle as a sidewalk toy when they were children, but nobody had taught them how to drive their bicycle as a vehicle on the roadway and I guess that was the first inkling of the fact that I was going to graduate from a bicyclist to a bicycle advocate. And this was back like twelve years ago before such thing was really commonplace. I guess I got in on the ground floor of a lot of motions before they happened. But, it was in that context that Cranks from Cooperstown became two books in one; that I originally started out to write just the second half of the book, which is the tour guide, the fifty rides. But, eventually it also ended up being part one, the first half of the book is a bicycle instruction manual for adults. And back then there were very few such instruction manuals available. And I’m pleased to say that a lot of people within our catchment area, within my patient population, because of the book did start riding on bicycles for the first time since they were kids and using that instruction part of the manual to get into a more healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. So it did work a bit, but it was quite a few years later before bicycle advocacy became more of a necessity I guess. It was a good way to put it as we became more and more of a motorist directed society.
[END OF TRACK 1, 32:51]
[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]
CM:
Now, you told me that when you go out biking you started your long trip with the Boy Scouts, but then after that when you do your self-contained self-supported do you normally go out by yourself? Do you take someone with you?
DS:
Both. There is, depending on your personality, there is something invigorating about a solo trip. You’re actually not alone when you’re on a bicycling trip and let me explain what I mean by that. I usually describe it this way: if you drive into a small town in rural America in your car, you’re probably not noticed. If you drive into that same town on a motorcycle, you’re probably kept out at arm’s length as, on some level, being a bit undesirable or to be watched. If on the other hand you drive into a small town on a loaded bicycle with 40 pounds of tent and sleeping bag, everybody wants to give you food and put you up in the back room. [laughing] I’m not exaggerating. I think there is something vulnerable about you when you travel in that manner. And you tend to stir up feelings in people who kind of wish they were doing that too. It’s an adventure that a lot of people would wish that they had the know-how to accomplish. Another bicycling author, his name is Willie Weir, says it in a different way. He says that what his job is when he is bicycle touring is to initiate kindness. In other words, he sets the scene by his very presence for people to do things for him and to feel good about themselves, because they have. He initiates the other persons being kind to him. And it really is that kind of a feeling when you’re on a bicycle tour alone or even when you are with somebody else it is that way. Being alone is not necessarily being lonely. And think about it, I’m spending my whole day as a general internist seeing a new patient with a different group of problems for which I have to be confidential, for which I have to listen, understand, support every fifteen minutes all day. Dealing with life and death decisions and people dying. It’s sort of rejuvenating to spend some time repairing yourself by very simply trying to stay upright on your bicycle and make it to wherever you’re going to end up tonight. That truly is re-creation and it is a very effective way to rekindle your spirit. Somewhere along the line at a bicycle rally, I found myself bicycling rather consistently with a new friend who lives down state here in New York for a very simple reason: we had a similar pace. During these bicycle rides at rallies, with this individual who is a bit younger than I, I would tell him stories of my adventures bike-packing and he would drool over them. He had never been in Scouts, he had never even been camping and one year at a rally he announced that he was coming with me the next time I biked on a trip. And I reminded him that he hadn’t been invited. [laughing] That I did these things solo for the reasons mentioned; that it was rejuvenating for me. And by the way, I should give credit to my wife for understanding my wanderlust and for giving me the freedom of being able to run away and rejuvenate. I am rambling again, but I would like to say this about relationships: that for each member of a relationship to have something that is their own and that is special and that rejuvenates them is something good for the relationship. It’s something that is a relationship builder and there should be more of it in my estimation in relationships. But, getting back to the person who now comes on many of these trips. He announced that he was coming and I reminded him that he didn’t know how to camp and that he had no gear, but told him that if I will give you a list of things that you need and before we leave on our first adventure I will expect that we have a shakedown where you show me that you can set up your tent and then we will hit the woods together. He did, he bought the things he needed, he was able to set up his tent and we set out for a week long adventure in, I believe our first one may have been New Hampshire, I am not sure. At any rate, wherever it was, it was just one of those serendipitous times where it rained every day for the first five days of the trip. I don’t mean a little bit of rain, I mean a lot of rain. Which would dampen the spirits even of anybody, even me as an experienced cyclo-tourist. I had created a monster. I remember saying to him on day five of rain, “you know there’s no rule that says we have to sleep in the woods at night, you know an inexpensive motel, a B&B, there’s a hostel up the road, hey there’s a ski dorm, this is Vermont you know? There are places where we can stay.” He says, “Ah, it’s just a little rain, what’s the matter with you? We have all the gear we need.” He proved himself to truly be a kindred spirit and to take to the activity very nicely. My wife likes it when I go with somebody else so if something happens there is somebody around to report, you know where I fell down and know where I am when I get dead.
CM:
Do you usually, when you go, do you usually, when you go on your large tours, do you usually go full circle, up and down, or…
DS:
You can do it either way. The easiest way is a circle for the very simple reason that you end up where you started.
CM:
Right.
DS:
That circle doesn’t have to be round. That circle can meander all over the place. Or a version of that, a variation would be a figure eight, which has something to say for it because if you’ve packed incorrectly you can leave things in the car or pick things up in the car if you come back to it in the middle of your trip.
CM:
Oh, okay.
DS:
So either a meandering circle or a figure of eight is the easiest. A car trip is also the, if you drive to a location that’s not too far from home, let’s say within a day’s journey, a day’s car ride of home, you’ve still got new territory to explore but it’s not hard to get there and you can bring all of your gear with you. It gets a little bit more complicated if you are now going to go farther than that and let’s say do it by plane. Where you have to get you and your gear far, far away and then not have a vehicle when you get there other than your bike. Even with that, a circle is easiest, but I’ve figured out how to do it beginning in one location and ending up a thousand miles in a different location. Here is the way I just did the last trip, which was from Durango, Colorado to Flagstaff, Arizona. That was about 1100 miles this past fall with about 15 National Parks in the way, by the way: Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyon Lands, Natural Bridges, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, it just goes on and on. It is absolutely beautiful territory. But, what we did was fly, my friend Jim and I that I just alluded to we flew our bodies to Durango. We had previously shipped our gear, our bikes in boxes, and our gear UPS to Durango. So, from the Durango airport took ground transportation to the UPS store. Retrieved our bikes. Put them together. Sent the fairly empty bike box to our destination in Flagstaff. Spent two and a half, three weeks biking 1,100 miles to the destination where the bike box had been shipped, at which point we then disassembled our bikes, put them in the bike box, and shipped it back home. And then flew back from Flagstaff, Arizona. So, that was a way of doing it, of starting from far away, starting in one location and ending in a different location and still being able to do it. Try not to send the bike and the gear by plane. A lot of reasons: the charge is prohibitive on the plane, the care of the equipment is awful. If the bike doesn’t and the gear don’t get to you
[TRACK 2, 10:00]
where you are starting because it’s lost, you’re really stuck. So UPS is the way we’ve gone so far, maybe and then you’ve got the, since 9/11, everything is packed very specifically so that nothing gets injured, and you don’t want somebody going through your equipment which they do, and repacking it incorrectly so that things break or get lost or whatever. So, that’s why we used UPS.
CM:
When you go out biking around here, even on your long distances, do you have a plan or do you just know your starting point and your ending point and you figure it out along the way?
DS:
There are different ways to do that. Back in the earlier parts of my career, when it was more local, let’s say New England, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and by the way there’s just so many places to explore in the Northeast besides Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, [and] New York. In the Northeast, don’t forget Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island. They’re all kind of places within a day’s ride or so, around Lake Champlain, the outer banks of North Carolina. Anyway, there are many, many wonderful places to explore by bike. I got on a sidetrack there, where…
CM:
Do you have a plan when you go biking?
DS:
Oh, the plan. Back in my earlier days, when it was more local like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, as little plan as possible was the way to go so that everything was a surprise. When it started becoming farther away and when National Parks, for example, were involved, well let me back up for a minute. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, where do you stay at night? You stay at night if you have your own camping equipment, pretty much wherever you want. What we refer to as stealth camping. What that means is that if it doesn’t say no trespassing and it’s woods, you can set up there. You’re not doing any harm, you’re clean in your behavior camping-wise, and so you can pretty much sleep anywhere where there are woods. As soon as you go into the woods with a bicycle, remember you don’t have a car or a SUV, you become fairly invisible. And again, you can tell where you’re welcome and when you’re not. And in most places in New England, most people find it acceptable that you be camping in the woods, so it is not a problem. And you can be without a plan because when it gets dusk, you can usually find a place to be. In National Parks, they understandably have rules, you can’t just camp anywhere you want to. You are supposed to camp only in designated locations, so that the National Park doesn’t get trashed by a billion visitors setting up wherever they want. Many National Parks will have what they call hiker/biker sites. In other words, they appreciate the fact that if you show up at a campground at 5:30 in the afternoon, just before dusk, that if the campground is full you don’t have the option of driving fifty miles to the next campground because you’re arriving by foot or by bike, you have to be there if it’s the only place they’re giving you. So as a protection against being in a location where there is no, where it’s full, where they have used up all the campsites, they will reserve a site or two only for people who show up under their own power and they are called hiker/biker sites so they’re never full. If you show up late in the afternoon, there is a place for you to be and they are usually inexpensive group campsites. But, if you are going to a group of National Parks as the group that I just mentioned in the Utah, Arizona trip, none of them had hiker/biker sites. And you have to ask yourself the question, well what shall I do if I am out in the middle of nowhere and I’m at this place where it’s the only legal place to camp, I can’t get to the next one. Do I have to plan this trip more, do I have to have a reservation, do I have to stay on schedule? So there’s just one example of, on the particular trip that you are planning, one particular trip may be more formalized for reasons like that and a schedule may be more exacting than another trip might be. Part of the fun of these trips is the wintertime planning of them. The armchair envisioning of the route and the armchair envisioning of well how far would be a reasonable distance to go today, where is the next community? Where is the next town? Where can I expect that there might be a grocery store or where can I guess that there might be a convenience store? The last trip, for example, there was a stretch of 150 miles through the high desert with no communities, where am I going to find water? These are the kinds of things where it is fun to plan and you do need more of a plan than if you are going to go around the corner in Vermont and just stealth camp in the woods wherever you happen to be at dusk. Is that answering your question?
CM:
Yes.
DS:
You pretty much, there are some trips where having no plan whatsoever except eventually you have to get back to wherever I parked my car a week or two ago, that’s the whole plan. That’s refreshing to just take it as it comes. Other plans, as I just was alluding to, you need the reassurance of a more formal plan because the consequences are devastating. There will be no water. There will be no food. There will be no legal place to camp. So, it depends on the trip.
CM:
Now, being a person that likes to bike so that you can then eat a lot.
DS:
Oh yes, that is why you do this.
CM:
When you are just going along the road and it gets dark, and so you pull over and find a camp spot, what do you do for food for the evening then?
DS:
Everybody’s got a different style, but when I leave for the trip whether it is from an airport, a UPS store, or from my vehicle, I have on the bike everything I need to go around the world. What I mean by that is if you think about the list of things, it’s not all that long. You bring up food. I always have a camp stove with me. And I will have at least one day or two days’ food on the bike. So, that if I’m planning to go to a certain location but I don’t make it tonight, and I have to stealth camp for whatever reason, I have food on the bike to cook. You don’t have a week’s supply because that would take up too much room and it would be too heavy, but you can have a day’s supply. And what you do is you day by day goes by when you do come to a grocery store or to a community, you stock up on your reserves so that you’re always a day or two ahead in case there is a need for it.
CM:
Okay.
DS:
That way you don’t have to worry about whether you end up in a community. The most fun is to get to a small community somewhere around dusk or an hour or so beforehand where there is a diner or a local ma and pa, local color place where you could eat evening meal and breakfast. There’s nothing more fun than breakfast with the locals. And again, remember you’re in stretch Lycra, you’re in bike gear, people will want to hear about your adventures. You immediately have everybody in the diner or the breakfast place as your friend. And they want to strike up conversations and hear about your adventure and where you’re going next and how far do you go. So, it’s fun to be close to a town by the end of the day and then spend an hour taking side roads and dirt roads looking for a place around that time to camp where you then set up camp, stealth, and then take a mile or two bike ride into town to have the evening meal with the locals just to soak up the local color, or, if while you are looking around, you can’t find a place, you stop at the police department or the local church, “anybody mind if we setup in the back of the police station, or set up in the graveyard over there?” Graveyards are great by the way. They usually have running water because people bring plants and stuff, so sleeping in the cemetery is a good place because it is usually open territory and there’s water supply. So you end up sleeping in a lot of interesting locations. But it’s most fun if you can find a place to stealth camp within a mile or two of the community at the end of the day and then interdigitate with the locals.
CM:
Now since you’ve started bicycling, have you seen a lot more cyclists on the road during your trips? Do you see it as an activity that has increased in popularity over the years?
[TRACK 2, 20:00]
DS:
Bicycling as an activity, as you know, has many faces. There are the people like me who are a long distance tourists, there are others who like to do off-road riding like mountain bikes, there are people who commute, there are people who like group day rides like bicycling clubs, there are people who are functional cyclists, they use their bike to go to the grocery store, to do errands. I mean I could go on and on and on. So in any community you are going to have cyclists that are using the same piece of equipment to do a hundred different things. If you are asking me what about my particular interest in the sport of long distance touring, the heyday for that, believe it or not, was the ‘70s. At the time of the bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of the country, cross-country bicycle trips became the thing to do and people would go from the east coast to the west coast and vice versa by bicycle and it was a huge activity. In fact, an organization came out of that that called themselves Bike Centennial, it was the bicentennial, but they started producing cross country maps for cyclists.
CM:
Wow.
DS:
And over the years they have persisted and now call themselves the Adventure Cycling Association. And they produce bicycling oriented strip maps for East to West, North, East to West, South, East coast, Maine to Key West, West coast from Vancouver to Mexico.
CM:
Oh my goodness!
DS:
I mean there are wonderful maps that are bicycling oriented. What do I mean by that? Well, they tell you where are the convenience stores, where are the grocery stores, where are the villages that have facilities, where are the bike shops. Nowadays, where are the libraries, not because they have books, but because they have computer access so you can communicate with the folks back home. How do you go through the city on the back roads that are more bicycle friendly? So having these wonderful bicycle maps is a great way to get to do long distance trips. Somebody’s already done the route for you. I’m not sure how we got on to adventure cycling again. Oh, you were asking me about do I see a lot of cyclists on the road. So back in the ‘70s, long distance bicycle touring, which is my particular sub-interest, was probably at its heyday and is having a comeback right now, mainly because bicycling is having a comeback right now. And it is interesting that bicycling is having a comeback for a whole bunch of parallel, related reasons. Bicycling is having a comeback because of environmental concerns. Bicycling is having a comeback because of climate concerns and global warming. Bicycling is having a comeback because of fuel concerns, not only the use of it and the carbon emissions, but the dependence on it and our politics worldwide. I mean all of the things that are problems in our society nowadays are improved by or helped by more of a bicycling culture, which is why bicycling advocacy is becoming so important within our culture nowadays. Again I’m rambling about all of these different topics, but the answer to the question about bicycle tourists, do I see a lot of them? The answer is that it depends on where I am. If I’m in Vermont, which has made itself a tourist destination for bicycle tourists, yes you see them everywhere. They don’t necessarily do it my way with bicycling camping. They will pay somebody a $1,000 to do all of the planning for them and give them a SAG wagon, that’s a van that follows along in case they get a repair problem and at a predetermined location at lunch they will have a gourmet lunch for them and bring their gear for them to the next B&B so they go from B&B to B&B and the bicycle tour company takes all of their gear for them and gives them their route and does all the planning. That’s another way to do it. Adventure Cycling will do it a different way for you. Well, yes we’ll camp at night, but we’ll give you a tour guide. We’ll give you a two week tour, but you don’t have to plan it, you just show up and we’ll fit you to a bike and we’ll give you a guide that knows the route, and you’ll all share in the cooking, but we’ll get the food bought for you and, well there are just a hundred different ways to do it. On this past trip in Utah it just happened to be that part of it, let me guess 200 or 300 or 400 miles of my 1,100 miles, just happened to follow one of the Adventure Cycling cross-country routes. So, I probably saw ten or twenty cyclo-tourists in that stretch of the road because it was a place where they would be more apt to be because they were following an Adventure Cycling route and I was just following my own and they just happened to overlap. So, in a small community or whatever community to see cyclo-tourists pretty much depends on where I am. But in any one community seeing the other cyclists depends on how the bicycle is used in that community. If you are in the Albany area and there’s a bike club with 700 members where you’re going to see cyclists going on group rides together. If you are in a place like Cooperstown you might be more apt to see somebody commuting to work by bike. I am just making it up. It depends on the make and mix of the community about what the bicycle is being used for in that particular location.
CM:
So, I think you mentioned advocacy, cycling advocacy, which I know is something you’re interested in. Can you tell me a little about how you became passionate about cycling advocacy?
DS:
I guess it started out as I said when I was writing Cranks from Cooperstown and decided to make it two books in one and to write an instruction manual for adults. It was the first time it dawned on me that when I got back into bicycling as an adult, pre-internet where you couldn’t look things up easily, that I really didn’t know how to drive my bicycle as a vehicle on the roadways and there really wasn’t anybody to teach me. You really need a bicycling club and people who are already experienced and then share their experiences with you and show you the ropes of the activity. And in a rural location like this, the closest bicycling club was 30 miles away and the closest bicycling shop at that time was 30 miles away. It was hard to learn and other than Richard’s Bicycling Book or whatever it was called, there weren’t any books even that you could go to the library and get and so it was learning from this person, learning from your experience, finding a book that did say something, but it was here, there, and hit and miss. So when I wrote Cranks from Cooperstown and made a bicycling instruction manual for adults, it was the beginning of bicycling education. I had, with a lot of difficulty, learned the activity on my own. And there was a way to share with others what I had picked up and also what little was in the bicycling literature. That ended up being, if you think about it, as successful as it was, because the book’s been out 11 years now, and it’s still selling so it must have had some good points for it, but it was still kind of a small catchment area. It wasn’t broad advocacy and it took a while for me to realize that bicycling advocacy for all of the reasons I was just mentioning, fuel use, carbon emissions, global warming, conservation, health, we became over the last thirty years, here I am the physician coach trying to get people on bikes because it’s fun for their own health and in the meantime computers came and took over the world and we became a screened sedentary, by screened I mean sitting in front of a screen, sedentary society with childhood obesity and diabetes out of control and all of a sudden the bicycle started having a whole new import with a culture as it had changed and advocating for bicycling to
[TRACK 2, 30:00]
be used more for the emotional and physical health of everybody’s community became important even outside of those organizations that were cycling minded. Parallel health and conservation organizations started having an interest in the topic.
[END OF TRACK 2, 30:30]
[START OF TRACK 3, 0:00]
CM:
Okay.
DS:
Let’s see we were talking about bicycling advocacy and how it started solidifying for me. I started it out with Cranks from Cooperstown with the instructional manual and then the country’s cultures changed becoming more sedentary and the bicycle became a solution it seemed for many of the problems or at least one of the potential solutions for many of the problems that were and are affecting our communities and then just by serendipity a couple of things happened to me personally. This seems trite, but on one of my trips I watched something happening. It was on a trip, this was another fun trip that I have done more than once, bike-packing from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West.
CM:
Wow.
DS:
And back. That’s a whole different trip. [laughing] That’s not stealth camping because there’s no place to stealth camp on keys, on islands. So there’s pretty much from State Park to State Park, but it is kind of neat to be sleeping on beaches, etc. At any rate, on that trip there aren’t that many roads and there is only Route 1 which is a main highway, it’s not like in Cooperstown where you can go on back roads and get away from traffic and I observed a couple of things over a couple of years. There were first of all the adults who had never been trained how to bike properly who were riding their bicycles against traffic without a helmet because nobody had ever taught them better on heavily traveled Route 1. And then ten miles further, the same uneducated cyclists, still without a helmet who were biking with traffic in the proper lane position and bicycling properly even though nobody had taught them how to do it because the road had been striped properly with a bike lane. It wasn’t that somebody had spent five million dollars redesigning the road. They had very simply taken a line that was on the edge of the road and put it four feet to the left where there was a bike lane and it had a bicycle picture in the middle of it. The guy was still driving without a helmet, which wasn’t a good idea, but he was at least in the right place in the road and going in the right direction and that was my first inclination watching this that the trite ‘if you build it, they will come’ advocacy scenario was true. That if you wanted to set the scene that more people would get on their bikes and use them for whatever purpose you had to make the roadways safer for them to use properly even if they didn’t know how. And there was an example where a can of paint was the answer: that the road had to very simply be engineered slightly differently, not expensively, to make it safe for even an uneducated road user. This is the thread I was looking for before because see what had happened in the forty or fifty years while I was growing up since the 1950s and the 1960s when we did an interstate system of roadways. This last fifty or sixty years when all of our interstates have been built and no one realized that we were building a society that was going to be car dominated on fast traveling roads and that in doing so we were going to make it difficult for any other mode of transportation to occur. It wasn’t an intended error. It just sort of happened. And the need for advocacy now is to remind all of our society who are designing and creating our roads that cars aren’t the only users of that facility, that you have the bicyclists and the pedestrians and the transit users and the elderly and the young and the disabled all using the same place to get from one area to another. If you live in a community where there are no sidewalks you can’t get anywhere except by car or by bike, you can’t get far by foot and if you’re disabled and there are no sidewalks, you can’t get anywhere, so that making the roadways user friendly for all the people who intend to use it. This is not anti-motorist, it is pro-everybody including motorists. And like my example of by using a can of paint to very simply make a line, a white line on the road in a different location and all of a sudden it is intuitively easier for a cyclist to use it safely, that is an example of what is now called Complete Streets. The Complete Streets very simply saying that if you are in the process of improving an already existing roadway or designing a new road to be built, well design it with the needs of all users in mind and then it will be safe for everybody to use. You wouldn’t think that that would be something that you would have to fight for because it seems so logical but it is a nationwide motion, part of bicycling advocacy, there is a nationwide component to it, there is a state component to it, there is a local and community component to it, New York State currently has Complete Street legislation that is up before the Senate and the Assembly to get passed. And hopefully, eventually it will become law that whenever we fix our roads, we fix them so that everybody can use them safely. But there’s a need for cycling advocacy groups to be pushing for that kind of legislation. So, it was a few experiences like that in the Florida Keys where I saw an uneducated group of cyclists in one area using the facilities totally wrong in a deadly manner and then ten miles up the road using the facility correctly even though nobody had told them how to do it because it was intuitive. The road said, “here is where you can be to ride your bike safely going in this direction,” it was so simple. It was an eye opener for me. A few things happened in Cooperstown that made my interest in cycling advocacy notch up a few levels really quickly. The local conservation association, OCCA, the Otsego County Conservation Association, convened a committee about a year ago with a very specific job. The committee’s job was to organize a Bike to Work Day. The intent was the Conservation Association wanted to promote bicycle commuting as a way of helping the environment. If more people did local trips by bike instead of by car, less fuel would be used, less carbon emissions, better for the environment. And we did Bike to Work Day and it was successful and all of a sudden you have in a room sitting around a table a handful of people who are talking about bikes and all of a sudden Lois Champlain who is from Cornell in Ithaca, who is in charge of what is called Local Roads Program, which is an advocacy group, came to Cooperstown to discuss Complete Streets, which we just alluded to and how we could affect it within our own village. And that same program gave a two day course up in Utica predominantly for highway engineers, but which I attended which was entitled “Designing Roads for Bicyclists and Pedestrians,” which was the people who actually make the roads sitting down and saying how can we make our facilities more bicycle friendly. It opened up a whole new world to me like the can of paint that I had experienced down in the Florida Keys about how simple it is to redesign our roads to make them safe for all road users. And then just serendipitously for the first time in maybe ten or fifteen years, our statewide bicycling advocacy group, the New York Bicycling Coalition, facilitated the presence of a League of American Bicyclists Bicycling Instructor Course in
[TRACK 3, 10:00]
Albany to go to learn how to be a teacher of bicycling. Previously, you would have to go to Washington, D.C. it was too far to go. I had been thinking about it for a long time to become a Certified Bicycling Instructor and all of a sudden here was the opportunity this past spring to go to that course fifty miles away. So all of these things conspired, because what was slowly developing in my mind, if you build it correctly they will come and use it correctly especially if you teach it. It was starting to become very clear that if you wanted to promote bicycling in anybody’s community you had to promote bicycling education for all the members of the community and you had to promote what was the big words are, infrastructure improvement, you had to make the roadways intuitively safer and easier to use and if you provided any community with those two tools more people would bike. It’s so simple. And so all of a sudden, here we have sitting around a table a group of people who were interested in that topic and we started developing our group that we called ORCA, the Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates, to do just what I’ve been discussing: to promote bicycling as an enjoyable, safe, healthy, environmentally friendly activity for people of all ages and abilities. Now, understand this is different from a bicycling club whose primary interest is in comradery, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, but when a bicycling club exists in a certain area its main focus is to get people who already like to bike together so that they can ride together. That’s a wonderful goal, but it’s a much more limited goal then that of an advocacy group which is interested, as I have already said, in bicycling education as well as advocating for proper roadway improvements. But the local advocacy group can also facilitate local group rides, which we plan to do. We just have a much larger interest and focus then a club might have. So that’s starting to get slowly on its feet here in Cooperstown. And if that wasn’t enough between having written Cranks from Cooperstown and now becoming a little bit more obvious as an ORCA, Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates founding member, all of a sudden the statewide advocacy group started waltzing me into becoming a member of their board so that now am I not only helping to found our local advocacy group, but I’ve been invited to serve on the board of directors of the New York Bicycling Coalition, which is very nice for us locally because not only will we have the local group with a direct link to the statewide organization so things have sort of snowballed in the past six to nine months in terms of my involvement with bicycling advocacy, which is a good thing. It’s an exciting thing. What’s most exciting to me is to realize the number of people that this concept is reaching. Let me go back to the mission statement and think about it: to promote bicycling as an enjoyable, safe, healthy, environmentally friendly activity for people of all ages and abilities. That doesn’t leave out anybody in your community and the all ages say that the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts and the 4H Clubs all want to know what we are doing and want to be a part of it and want to promote bicycling advocacy for their group and the Boys Clubs and the healthy part, those organizations that are trying to promote the physical and emotional health of the community all want to have a piece of the action. The local service organizations, Rotary, Lion’s Club, want to be part of it. There’s probably no organization I can think of that can’t say, “you know I can back that, that’s a mission statement that makes sense to me even though I don’t bike.” That’s the fascinating part, that non-cyclists see this type of a mission as good for the community at large. So you have all these built in allies, you know the hospital wants us to flourish because they want to promote the area as a heart healthy environment. The pediatricians, the pediatrics, the childhood obesity guys want us to flourish. I just did bike ed [education] this past Thursday for sixth graders at the Cooperstown Middle School. The totally unrelated to us but hopefully not to continue unrelated to us, a village on the western side of the county of Otsego county, Schenevus, Maryland area just received a State Safe Routes to School grant that was initiated by their school. One of the catchphrases in bicycling advocacy, other than Complete Streets that we just discussed, is Safe Routes to School. Back when I was growing up, I would guess about 75% or 80% of children either walked or road their bike to elementary school and high school. Now that percentage, I’s have to make it up because I don’t remember it, if it’s 10% we’re lucky, if it’s 5% we’re lucky, it’s not much, and there are a lot of reasons why that doesn’t happen, but one of them is a perception that it’s not safe to get there from home on our streets. So getting a Safe Routes to School development in everybody’s community is one of the catchall phrases and there are funds available to make that happen in your community if you apply for it properly and the Schenevus, Maryland folks were successful in getting it. I attended their Safe Routes to School celebration, spoke with the DOT people, Department of Transportation people, who had given them the grant, found out why they had been successful, but more importantly the school system now wants us to go there and do bike ed [education] for the kids in the spring. So, it’s snowballing. The driver’s ed [education] people realize that there’s a missing part of their curriculum is to better teach Share the Road is another catchphrase in bicycling advocacy for motorists. Part of my LCI training, League Cycling Instructor training, is to train motorists how to deal with us pesky cyclists. And the local Rotary Club, for example, wants me to give a presentation, at their noon lunch meetings about that. So it’s a question of training not only the cyclists to be a good advocate, but also training those with whom we share the road, the motorists, so that they understand our behavior. If you don’t understand why a cyclist is behaving safely by his road position, both for himself and for you the motorist, then you might see that cyclist as a momentary hindrance to your going forward. Until you realize that he is in a certain position in the road to be safe for both of you. Somebody has to teach you that so that you understand it.
CM:
Right.
DS:
So, bicycling advocacy has become a big part of what’s happened in my life in the last year. But, it is following a nationwide trend. And what is particularly exciting about what’s happening with ORCA, our local group, Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates, is we’re sort of being seen by the state people as a prototype for how other such local advocacy groups could develop. And how the state people could be facilitating the ease with which another county or another area might start their own group. Let’s face it, most of us have not been trained in how to start an organization.
CM:
Right.
DS:
And even if you have an interest in doing so you start off by saying, but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do a non-profit. I don’t know how to get liability insurance.
[TRACK 3, 20:00]
DS:
How do I do this? And seeing us struggle to invent this wheel, when it’s probably already been invented by somebody else, our intent is not only to do a good job for us, but to then help others to start advocacy groups locally with less trouble because we show them how. So our success is not only going to be good for us but going to be good hopefully for other areas of New York state. To the extent that you get more people on bikes for whatever purpose and they are more visible and more noticeable and become more and more a part of what is called bicycling culture nowadays then more and more people bike. It’s something that’s part of what you see every day and it becomes something they say, “I can do that too,” and to the extent there are more cyclists on the road and more cyclists developing and more bicycle education programs to show them how to do it safely then the motorists understand the cyclists’ behavior more and are more understanding of our behavior and everybody coexists in a wonderful utopian society. [laughing]
CM:
Well, as we start to wrap up here, is there anything else you’d like to share with me?
DS:
I think I have rambled far enough. We’ve talked about Cooperstown and how it has changed. Actually, we didn’t talk that much about Cooperstown and how it’s changed. A lot of Cooperstown has not changed, but I wish I could give you a little snapshot of Main Street from forty years ago where the Clark’s Sports Center was part of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Main Street.
CM:
Wow.
DS:
Where there were no baseball stores, there were instead, you know, clothing stores, grocery stores, you know meat markets, a typical main street and not a strip mall seven miles away down in Hartwick Seminary. Everything was like most communities back then a Main Street community where everybody shopped and where the sort of the hub of the community was. It’s not just Cooperstown that’s changed; nationwide Main Streets have changed to the strip mall variety on the periphery of town. But, that was something that in the earlier parts of the conversation we didn’t touch upon. The tourism part, and the Baseball Hall of Fame and the museums and the graduate program, the Farmers’ Museum, all of that was still here, but Main Street was still Main Street for Cooperstown. It wasn’t just the tourist destination. But, other than that I think that we’ve done a pretty good job of describing what’s happened to me in forty years, what’s happened to Cooperstown in forty years, what’s happened to medicine in forty years, what’s happened to bicycling and advocacy in that period of time. If anything is constant it’s that it will change.
CM:
Yes.
DS:
[laughing] It’s been said before, but if there was one thing that you could teach to someone early in their career is that one thing. Because I remember when my oldest son was in college bringing this topic up and the frustration that the college student has with realizing that I am making all of my lifetime decisions based on how things are now.
CM:
Yes.
DS:
And yet the reality is that all of the decisions I make will be executed at a period of time when all of these things that have prompted me to make this decision will have changed. And all I can do is commiserate with that reality [laughing] because it’s true. End of speech.
CM:
Well great. Thank you very much for you time.
DS:
You’re welcome.
[END OF TRACK 3, 24:26]

Duration

32:51 - Part 1
30:30 - Part 2
24:26 - Part 3

Bit Rate/Frequency

128kbps

Files

Citation

Cassie Mundt, “Dennis Savoie, November 16, 2009,” CGP Community Stories, accessed October 17, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/39.