New year’s resolutions are often easier to make than they are to keep, but for James Cooper of Red Bluff, a resolution is a goal that must be met.
Through pleasant weather, rain, bitter cold, strong winds, withering heat and the challenges of traffic, he pedaled a bike every day in 2012, all 366 of them, to keep his New Year’s resolution in a Leap Year.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “I just can’t describe how beneficial it’s been for me, for my mood and the way that I feel. I like riding my bike, and I promised myself that I was going to make the time to ride every day. I’m very fortunate. My wife (Brandi) has been very patient and supportive. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Cooper, 37, said he is a multi-faceted person who likes to set goals and achieve them. He does that in all areas of his life. When he was younger, he got involved in martial arts and persevered to receive numerous awards and world championships.
While he enjoys riding with other bikers and does so often, he also enjoys riding alone at times. “It can be very meditative. It gives you a lot of time to think,” he said.
About 15 of his fellow bikers met him at Market Common on Monday and joined him for a 10-mile congratulatory ride as he completed his 366th day of riding in 2012, a leap year.
When that ride ended, his total miles for the year was 4,525.32; 505.83 of those were in December.
Andre Pope of Myrtle Beach helped organize Cooper’s congratulatory ride and rode with him on Monday.
“James has just been kind of an inspiration to a lot of different people on his dedication to just getting out there and riding every day -- not just bicycle riders but people in genera,l” he said. “It says we need to quit with excuses and get out there and accomplish our goals.”
Cooper, a Horry County native, has been riding bikes since he was a kid. About 15 years ago, he got more involved in riding and started repairing bikes.
He is electrical operations manager at Cooper Mechanical Services, Inc., but in his spare time he repairs bikes and builds custom bikes. He has ridden about 15 different kinds of bikes in 2012, and for his final ride he rode one of his originals called the Broadtracker, modeled after a 1950s motorcycle.
Cooper, a member of the Waccamaw Trail Blazers, also tries to get other people involved in biking no matter what kind of bikes they ride. “We take all comers. We’ve got a beautiful community to ride in and some really great weather,” he said. “It’s not about the bike. You don’t have to have some expensive bike.”
Before Christmas, Cooper worked with the Trail Blazers in a toy drive for kids, and he organized a cruiser toy drive, showing up dressed as Santa and riding a trike.
Pope said Cooper donates a lot of time and effort just because he loves riding bikes and he loves getting other people out there riding, too.
“He’s just a good guy and I’m proud of him for what he has done,” he said. “He’s not pretentious in any way. He’ll ride with anybody and he has fun doing it, and that’s the main thing.”
It takes a lot of dedication to be out there in the elements every day, said Marshall Brown, president of the Waccamaw Trail Blazers.
“Because he’s so positive about it, I’m sure he’s got other people riding,” said Brown, who was among the riders who had to work and couldn’t join Cooper on Monday.
Still, he was cheering Cooper on.
“I think it’s awesome,” Brown said.