You’ve seen him. He’s the one on the old, slightly beat-up bicycle having no trouble at all keeping up with all the Spandex-clad riders on shiny wheels.
Maybe you remember the day you saw him riding casually around your neighborhood on an antique Sting-Ray bike. Remember those banana seats?It could be that you spotted him on a high-wheeler, or on a bicycle with bright blue tires, or one that was handcrafted from highly polished woods.
Yes, it was all the same guy: Rex Upshaw. Still a boy at heart, 72-year-old Upshaw just likes bicycles, and the man can ride. His fleet now includes 19 bicycles, many of which are seriously antique. He rides them all, all over Madison County and beyond, just for fun.
“Whatever I like, I like,” said Upshaw, an Anderson native. “I’ll just keep playing ‘til I can’t play anymore. If you can, why not do it as long as you can? We put too many limits on ourselves. I’ve done that a lot in the past — not anymore.”Upshaw’s love of the two-wheeled machine has led him to log close to 140,000 miles all under his own power since 1992 — the year bicycles really came to figure in his life.
That day came eight years after the mechanical engineer gave up his cigarette habit.
“I smoked three packs a day for 28 years,” said Upshaw. “I inhaled clear to my toes.”
That day also came 10 years after Upshaw gave up his beloved basketball game. Upshaw had been a basketball player from the get-go. He played until he was 41.
Then he just up and quit, for 10 years.
Once he’d given up basketball and smoking, he spent a decade beleaguered by a fatigue that was only reversed in 1991 after he seriously injured his finger while helping to move a couch. His doctor quickly spotted a low thyroid condition, and meds followed, eventually restoring his energy.