Dick Dawe, 83, can be hard to track down.
If he’s not helping a friend with a wheat harvest, driving the van for the Hillyard Senior Center, or drumming for one of the two bands he’s in, he’s usually on his bike.
In June he rode the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, a 250-mile jaunt across the state. He wasn’t always this active.
“I didn’t do much until I was almost 40 and I ran the second Bloomsday,” Dawe recalled. “I got hooked on running and ran most of the Bloomsdays and all of the 10K’s in town.”
The Lewis and Clark High School graduate served 4½ years in the Navy (two aboard a sub) before enrolling at Eastern Washington State College. After graduating, he worked as a cost accountant for Boeing at Paine Field before returning to Spokane to work as an auditor for Farm Credit Bank.
“Then they came up with an early retirement program when I was 50,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do, but I used to watch all the trucks go by from my downtown office, so I went to truck driving school and drove truck for 25 years.”
He said he officially retired at 78. Then he smiled.
“But I’m still driving. For the last five years I’ve been driving for the Hillyard Senior Center.”
Before that it was Meals on Wheels and other centers often give him a call when they need a driver.
In the early 80s, he left running behind and picked up biking.
“Running took too much time and I had to train so much, so I switched to bikes,” he said. “I went crazy for biking.”
He owns five bikes and participated in the inaugural Spokefest and has the shirt to prove it. Like many, he was disappointed when the event was canceled this year.
“I have a tandem tricycle and when I was in my 70s I did Spokefest with my friend who was in his 90s!”
But Dawe much prefers trail riding.
“You see so much more when you’re on a bike,” he said.
Indeed, he’s seen a lot of the U.S. from his bike. In 2016, he rode 300 miles of Route 66.
“I did the middle half,” he said. “I rode into Oklahoma City during tornado season.”
At 80, he wanted to do an 80-mile ride and picked the Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes.
“It’s only 73 miles, so I added on seven more,” said Dawe.
In 2020, during the pandemic, he rode the Natchez Trace Parkway which spans Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.
“My nephew and I do most of these rides and he’s 20 years younger – I’m having trouble keeping up!”
A bad heart valve led to him getting a pacemaker in 2021.
“That’s why I got an electric bike,” he said. “I converted a 20-year-old Specialized bike. I can turn off the pedal assist when I don’t need it.”
He used his e-bike for June’s Palouse to Cascades ride.
“We rode from Seattle and picked up the trail at North Bend,” Dawe recalled. “We did 45 miles the first day and camped at Lake Easton that night. I was still a young man then – only 82.”
He and his nephew and a friend did the trail in a week and have already planned next year’s adventure.
“We’re going to do the Katy Trail in Missouri,” he said.
The trail runs 240 miles along the Missouri River.
When Dawe isn’t riding or driving the Hillyard Center van on day trips, he’s drumming with the Shriner’s band, or a smaller group that plays for the weekly dances for Day Out for the Blind-Spokane.
“I’ve been a drummer since grade school,” he said. “My parents were both musicians and in 1984, I started playing in the Shrine band with my dad.”
He’s not the oldest member of the small band that plays at the Eagles and for the Day Out for the Blind dances.
“Our clarinet player is 90.”
When asked where he gets the energy to keep up with his busy schedule, Dawe grinned.
“I think you have to keep moving,” he said. “I’m busier now than I ever was when I was working for a living.”
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