Someone once asked me “How many bikes have you had?” After some thought, I came up with this answer. I have owned numerous bikes throughout the years. And that is a lot of years, mind you.
I can almost remember a red tricycle (along with a little a red rubber truck with yellow rubber wheels, but that’s another story), but the first bicycle I can recall was a red bike. My brother Victor and I both got one for Christmas. The problem back then was boys bikes were usually red and girls bikes were blue. I know this sounds mixed up but that is how it was back then….at least as I recall anyway. Anyway, I wanted a blue bike.
There is not too much to say about that red bike except that our overprotective mother would not let us ride our bikes outside of the yard. While the whole world and all the other children in it, got to ride on the sidewalks and streets, my brother and I were restricted to the backyard. Thank goodness we had a large backyard.
Actually it was a very large yard, but it wasn’t large enough to keep the bikes from their destiny….which would be complete disassembly. As a matter of fact, everything, yes everything I have ever owned was/has been disassembled to some degree, with most of these items meeting the same fate as the bikes. If it was held together with hardware, it got broken down. Even if it had no hardware holding it together, it would still end up taken apart…somehow.
My mother’s friend, Charles, loved me like a son. (There are some who think this is true) As I recall he may have been the only adult bike rider in my life when I was growing up. Probably nothing more than an occasional ride on his part, but since I can’t remember anyone else, I guess I’ll credit him for this addiction err lifestyle. Anyway Charles brought me the coolest bike I ever owned.
It was a Huffy Wheel. A beautiful BLUE bike built on the Huffy Rail line. These were long, lean, Stingray style bikes with slicks and redline tires. The Wheel was aptly named because instead of handlebars it has a real blue steering wheel. It was a single speed with a drag brake for stunts (wheelies). I could never do wheelies on that bike but in the future this guy named Rock sure could. His was the only other Wheel I had seen outside of a store. By the way, back then, our bikes were brought from Firestone tire stores or Pep Boys. There was a bike company called Schwinn, but there were no dealers in Philly. I used to always dream of owning a Schwinn Paramount.
Of course mother’s riding restrictions still applied. My friends would ride over to see the bike but they couldn’t even get jealous, probably because they felt so sorry for us. We would plead with them to ride in the backyard with us!
Then one Sunday afternoon, Mom allowed us to ride on the pavement for a few hours. I can still recall how great that felt. When our time was up, it was back to the yard. Later that afternoon, Mom went out for the evening, and so did we. Oh yeah! I say we because my brother would do almost anything I did. Why? Because he would not get in trouble. “You’re the oldest…you should know better” is what I’d hear before my spankings. Maybe that was another way of saying “he is an idiot who follows you because he doesn’t know any better?” He wasn’t an idiot. He was just smart and was working it.
Anyway, when mom left we managed to convince Grandma that she said we could go out again. We knew we would get caught, but WE DID NOT CARE. We rode up and down the sidewalk, around the corner, and onto Ellsworth St (the street behind ours). Back there, we rode IN THE STREET. It still feels good thinking about it. When nightfall came, we kept riding. Hey, this was our onenight-stand.
Mom came home and eventually found us on Ellsworth St. and that was the end. It was back to the yard for forever. After that stunt, the bike wasn’t even allowed out of the basement. But the basement was huge! It was actually large enough to ride around in, but it was not big enough. The Wheel never again saw the light of day. Not in one piece anyway. I recall that I sold the steering wheel to a friend named Phil who had a purple 5 speed Rail (with a Huret derailleur). A purple bike with a blue steering wheel? Yuk!
Many years later Mom decided to let me ride the bike in the backyard, but there was no bike anymore. Just a few bits and pieces remained. I can’t recall where the rest of the bike went. “It will be a long time before you will get another bike” I was told. It was. I’m guessing it may have been 5 to 10 years that I went without a bike. How cruel! People get lesser sentences for DUIs. Anyway I don’t recall having another bike until we moved.
I was in Jr. High School when we moved and we both got bikes for Christmas that year. Brand new 10 speed racers from Pep Boys. Victor got a gorgeous blue one and I got the… green one. Both had white bar tape (for a while) and they were really nice. Better yet, our new home was a duplex with a backyard so small both bikes wouldn’t even fit back there so we kept the bikes in our room. No backyard and being a teenager meant the street was ours. Of course we had to stay on the sidewalk. “Yes Mommy, we’ll stay on the sidewalk”. There are 50 million miles of sidewalk spanning the globe. We rode all over the world, on the sidewalk of course. Hey, these were 10 speeds right? Road bikes. Sidewalk bikes have training wheels. (Not my grandson’s)
We saw our Uncle Howard one day when we were about 25 miles from home. We didn’t know if he saw us, until later at a family get together when he asked “Didn’t I see you two at the Bazaar of All Nations?” “No, that wasn’t us”. Looking back it was very, very unlikely that there would be two other black children way out there in the suburbs of Philly. Whatever, because we didn’t get punished. Or maybe we just finally wore Mom out.
Well, one day we came home from school and the front door was open. We got robbed. Wanna’ guess which bike they took? I guess the blue one would have stood out too much.
So I would soon buy my first bike. It was a C ITHOL 10 speed from a store called Kiddy City. This was a chain store much like today’s Toys R Us. And what color do you think the bike was? Green of course. It was the only one I could afford at $50. After a while it was a black bike. This was the first bike that I painted.
I learned to do wheelies on this bike. My cousin Kevin showed me how. We simply rotated the dropped handlebars 180 degrees. We could ride all over the city on a wheelie. We could slow to a crawl for stop signs and turn on a dime. We did seated wheelies. A lot of our friends did standing wheelies but these were usually on “stingray” type bikes. One day I let a friend ride my bike…and it was stolen from the corner store.
Sometime during this period I did have another go at stingray type bikes. There was a dirt hill we called Baja near Cobbs Creek Parkway and Spruce St. It was a long hill that dropped into a running track surrounding a football field. We would ride down the hill, hit the flat of the track and then get air because the football field was about 2 feet higher than the track. There was also a bump halfway down the hill that forced you to get air. How much air depended on how fast you hit the bump. We learned to coast down from the top, clear the bump and then pour it on. My best friend Carlton had an Orange Raleigh Chopper with the Sturmey-Archer 5 speed internal hub. (3 on the right, 2 on the left). Gorgeous bike. (I saw one in Escondido) He could get serious air coming up onto the field. No one ever pedaled from the top.
My brother Victor tried it…once.
There were a bunch of girls hanging around the top of the hill. They watched us. “How come you guys don’t pedal down” they asked. Victor showed them why…not. He got major (out of control) air on the bump and when the dust settled there was Victor lying on the ground tangled within the bike frame. MY LIFE flashed before my eyes.
Let’s go back for a minute. Less than a year prior to this I had gotten into SERIOUS trouble because of him. I had this skateboard that he so badly wanted to ride. So I allowed him to ride it in trade for a Popsicle. As he rode back from the store with my Popsicle in hand, it looked like he just sat down, so I grabbed the Popsicle and walked away as he sat on the ground whimpering. Mom heard him screaming and rushed outside to find him lying in the street. “I just left him for dead with his leg broken in 7 places.” Is what I would hear at least one or two more years. This was just another case where Victor got me in trouble. He fell out of a window once.
Back to the hill, because I was young so the flashback didn’t last very long. I helped Vic up with absolutely no concern for the bike. He was ok, so I would live. The bike was done. This was our first lesson about women and it was also our precursor to downhill racing!
At another point in time, Carlton and I met this guy named Rudy. He rode an old English Racer (3 spd Sturmey-Archer internal hub). This guy could get across town faster than anyone we knew. His secret? He didn’t stop for intersections. He didn’t even slow down. His theory was, the less time you spend in an intersection, the less likely that you’d get hit. We didn’t ride with him for very long because we couldn’t keep up. He never got hit while we knew him, although there were a few swerves and other close calls. I wonder if he ever did?
In high school Mom helped me buy a 10 Speed from Sears. It was BLUE and very nice and cost $100. It had a quick release front wheel (wing nuts), a double butted frame, and Huret Allvit derailleurs. One day Randy and I were going to ride to the park. We took off and I raced into the lead (he was never fast, just cool). As I rounded the corner of Christian and 57 th streets I was going very fast. I would have made the turn if not for the manhole cover.
I was in a serious lean until I hit said cover at which time the bike stood straight up. I would have made the turn if not for the green 1968 Impala that wasn’t parked correctly. The back of the car was sticking out. I sort of sideswiped the car behind it but just couldn’t clear that Chevy. BAM. I remember my shoulder hitting the vinyl top just above the fender.
I woke up lying on my back and as I looked up, people getting on the bus stopped to look. I looked to the left and saw my bike. The front wheel now overlapped the back wheel because the top and down tubes had 90 degree bends in them, just behind the head tube. Looking further left I saw the broken tail light and dented roof on the Chevy. I picked up my bike and ran home passing Cool Randy on the way. Mom was upset that those brakes had failed on that new bike and she got a refund. How long is that statue of limitation for fraud?
The replacement was an orange Raleigh frame I got from Carlton. Now I like the color orange but just not on bikes, so downstairs we went to the paint booth (a basement without ventilation) to get a fresh coat of white paint. I stripped the frame all the way down so I could get paint everywhere including the bottom bracket threads. Did you know that you cannot install a bottom bracket if the threads have three coats of paint at all on them? The bike looked nice but I like black bikes. I had no problems with the bottom bracket when the bike turned black.
I did have a problem one Labor Day when I was struck from behind while riding the black bike on the wrong side of the road? Mom had to get our phone number changed so that woman (again?) would stop calling me. I replaced the bent rear wheel and rode many miles on this bike. I was struck from the rear again by a friend on the other side of Philly, in Germantown. He was on his bike and couldn’t stop.
Moving forward, my roadie Anthony and I used to wake up at 1 am and ride at night in the summer. It was fun riding on empty streets. Philly was well lit at night so we didn’t need headlights. One night we noticed the total lack of cars on Whissahicken Drive. The road was closed so we took the whole road. SWEET! When we got to the north end there was a lot of flashing light from police cars and ambulances. We later found out that this was the accident that left Teddy Pendergrass paralyzed. Sad but we sure did enjoy that road that night.
At this time a lot of folks were buying nice bikes just to style (posers). Wearing their fancy bike outfits and looking like Pro riders. We wore cutoff jeans. Anthony and I used to get great pleasure out of stomping on these guys. We would just cruise along well traveled bike paths like East and West River Drives, waiting for someone to pass us. When they did, we would blow buy them like they were standing still. They would look at us and try to catch us, believing their bikes and clothing were magical and would make them fast. The few that could catch us would just get dropped again. Poor idiots didn’t realize the bike has nothing to do with speed. It’s all about the rider and we were fast!
After I graduated from high school I got a job working at Garolini Shoes with John Brown. The company moved to South Hampton. I brought a 1974 Gitane Tour De France. This was the beginning of the good stuff. I purchased it from a sporting goods store called L Polnoc (?) It cost $500. My friends thought I was crazy! I could have bought a car for that much money. Maybe two cars?
The Gitane was white with a beautiful lugged frame. It was equipped with Mavic brakes Simplex derailleurs. Front and rear quick release wheels (still wing nuts), and cottered cranks. (A cotter pin is simply a nut and bolt that goes through the crank arm to hold it on the bottom bracket) It rode like a dream. Maybe there is something to this fancy bike theory after all.
I decided to ride it to work. South Hampton was 28 miles one way. On the way to work while going down a hill at somewhere between 35-100mph the cotter pin came out of the left crankarm. I don’t know why or how I did not crash. Even more amazing was that I actually found the cotter pin when I walked back looking for it. To have found the nut would have required and out-of-body experience. You know, the whole floating over the scene of your demise. Oh look, there it is, la la la, who needs a bike when you have wings. I wonder if there are bikes in heaven? There has to be!
Anyway I pushed the pin in and rode 10 ft, pushed the pin in and rode 10 ft…….. Pushed the pin in, hit it with a rock and rode 20 ft (ok 30 ft). Around 10:30 I realized I wasn’t going to get to work, so I HAD TO FIND A PHONE (Once upon a time there were no cell phones, Renee). I also had to have money to put in the phone. I told my boss of my dilemma and then headed home. I think I got home the same day. Took the bike to the shop and all they could do was apologize, over and over. They also gave me a spare cotter pin which I never used. I never rode that bike to work either. I didn’t have it very long because….
One day I was riding down the street (yeah, here it comes) when I passed this red Corolla approaching from a side street off of Cobbs Creek Pkwy. I almost made it past her but she pulled out and just touched my back wheel. I was saying one word as I flew through the air. I then landed on all fours and bounced up and jumped on the hood of the Toyota. It was almost like a scene from the Matrix. The woman (again?) started crying. I guess I scared her a little. Can you imagine me on your hood, face in the windshield, enraged and cussing?
She could not believe my bike cost $500. In the end all I got was $50. The bike was destroyed. Frame and wheels all tweaked. I think one of the handlebar plugs was ok.
I brought a used bike from a friend, painted it (what color?) and rode it until my next bike.
I must mention that I did buy my first car when I was sixteen and I’ve always had a car since. While I love cars and bikes equally, I just love to ride. I love to ride. My car stories are truly unbelievable and most people probably think they are lies. My friend Carlton knows they are true since he was there and has his own stories. He was almost as crazy as I was. We both know our unbelievable stories are not lies.
Anyway The next bike was a Fuji Grand Sport.
I brought this bike in 1978 from L Polnoc. It was a burgundy bike with a 60cm carbon steel (heavy) frame. It was way too big for me but that was the style for that period (dumb). It cost $275 and had a Shimano drive train and steel rims. I had the rims changed to Wienman alloy rims to make the bike much lighter. I also purchased my first helmet, the white Bell. This helmet weights as much as my latest bike. My son has it in his museum. My best memory of this bike is as follows: In 1979 I decided to join the USAF. In December I took off for basic training and in April 1980 I arrived in Tucson AZ. My grandmother had my bike shipped to me by airplane shortly thereafter. She passed away in June of that same year. I pause for a moment… I guess she knew how much I loved to ride.
Arizona is a great place to ride and I did. I met Harold Anderson or Andy as he was called. He rode a Trek 600 at a time when Trek only sold frames. I rode my first century with Andy and before too long I would learn that my Fuji was way too big (and heavy) for me so I brought a used SR from a guy in the Jet Engine Shop named Waldo. It was Pearl White with Red trim and had chrome-moly main tubes. The 23” frame was much lighter than the Fuji that I sold to Henry Brown. The Fuji was stolen from him a short time afterwards.
I did numerous long distance rides on the SR. Once we (Andy and I rode to Picacho Peak and had our wives meet us there for lunch. We discovered that if you feed one burro they will tell all the others who will then demand that you stop feeding yourself. They’ll only leave when all the food is gone. Another desert moment comes to mind: at Colossal Cave I was standing by a fence when Andy asked if I knew what a Gila Monster looked like. I did when I turned around and saw it a mere 2 feet away.
Andy used to wake me up at 0500 after many of my all-nighters. “You might as well get up because I’m not leaving until you do”. Have you ever seen a person’s sweat start to foam from beer? We used to climb Sabino Canyon which was steep and beautiful. The seven bridges were also dangerous which is why I stopped riding there. There was an outhouse at the very top and the “rule” was to ride up to it and slap the sign next to it. This was easier said than done, but I always made it. I guess the carbs (and being young) kept me going.
I rode in the very first El Tour De Tucson in 1982 on this bike. I don’t remember how long it took. Just before the event, the bridges were damaged from a storm, hence the wash crossings. There was also a long stretch of dirt where Old Vail Road is now. What I do remember was leg cramps while climbing Snyder Hill Rd after walking through the wash. This was a mile of so from the finish since the first El Tour started and ended at Sabino Canyon back then.
One day, after almost 2 years of riding the SR, Henry mentioned that I was riding a stolen bike. “No way” I replied. Well it turns out that Waldo brought the bike from someone named Ski, who was a known bike thief. Ski would allegedly visit the U of A filling his van with other people’s bikes. Paranoia overwhelmed me on the next few rides after hearing this. Waldo and Ski had both gotten out of the USAF some time before. This bike then ended up “in the yard”, disassembled with the components ending up on various bikes. I threw the frame away.
My next bike was a 1984 KHS Turbo. It was NEW and it was BLUE. Full chrome moly double butted frame and fork equipped with the Shimano 600 group. It was a very nice bike for the price ($450 I recall). KHS was relatively unknown, hence the lower price. I peeled off all the decals and most folks thought it was a custom bike until I told them otherwise.
During this time I was pretty fast and had built a reputation for it. No one I rode with could keep up if I chose not to let them. A few of my friends told me about this guy named James Knight was also fast. They arranged for us to ride together. On a Saturday morning we met and decided on a route and destination. We said “let’s go” and he took off like a bolt, so I took off too cranking hard to catch up. When I looked up he was stopped dead in front of me. I was going at least 25mph when I hit him. He went to the hospital with a broken rib. I broke my thumb and had major road rash. The fact that it was totally my fault took me off the bike from 1985 – 88. I sold the KHS to a friend, Phil, who I believe still has it.
I did have a family to raise, so my off-bike time was well spent.
In 1988 I was intrigued by these strange things called mountain bikes. Riding fast in the dirt sounded like fun. This is the year our family started camping with Mike Jones. I brought a Charcoal Gray Viscount from Big 5. It was ALL STEEL and weighted at least 50 lbs. It was pretty cool for the first few rides, but no one I knew had an Mt Bike so I sold it. After a few months I started to see more people riding these Mt Bikes so I gave it another go and brought this really cool red Pathfinder bike to match our red Nissan Pathfinder. A red bike. Hmmm that takes me back.
We did a reasonable amount of mountain biking at places where we camped staying on fire roads for the most part. One time I was hauling the bike on the back of our Jamboree motorhome. I had just brought 2 new Farmer John tires ($25 each). The RV went through a wash and I heard a “pop” noise. I didn’t ride that weekend as the rear tire was shredded.
In 1989 I went to Field Training Detachment to work as a maintenance trainer. Several riders there relit my interest for the road. I brought a blue Bridgestone RB1 from Play-it-Again-Sports for $200. It was a nice chrome-moly bike with Suntour components. I rode it a lot and returned to riding El Tours in 1990. I was still pretty fast but endurance became my strong suit. This was a great time with Ed Ellison, Jack Baker, David Mitchell and Dennis Green. There was also this guy who smoked cigarettes like a train but wanted to ride. We decided to give him a shot. On one of our hill climbs he would ride past us, have a smoke, ride down and turn around, several times before we got to the top. David Bernie is the fastest rider I know, having won (or placed high) numerous local events (After he stopped smoking)
In 1992 Mt Bikes were really catching on so I built one from a used Novara frame I purchased from Recycled Cycles.This was when I discovered single-track. Star Pass and Chiva Falls became very popular for us. We added places like Elephant Head and the Arizona trail to list of trails. In 93 I added an all steel Tange front shock to the bike. The difference in the ride was incredible.
I still continued to ride the road but Mt Biking was fun! The road was relaxing. I had friends for both. My son rode BMX bikes and did ramps and the like. I found this really cool 24” Peugeot road bike but he just couldn’t get into it. I also brought him a 24” Huffy Mt Bike with a front shock. (50+ lbs) We did a ride to Chiva Falls. Without any regard he just flew down the first hill and over the bars. MY LIFE flashed before my eyes again but his time it took much longer. His mother’s last words were “Nothing better happen to MY son”. He was fine and it was a good ride, but I recall him saying “I like Mt Biking, but I don’t like pedaling up hills”. We did a few rides, but it wasn’t for him. My daughter pledged allegiance to avoid anything to do with biking. She obviously took good notes from her mom.
In 1993 I brought some nice Cinnelli bars at the Fall Bike Swap Meet on 6 th Ave. Well, Cinelli bars require…a Cinelli stem. I went to Recycled Cycles that afternoon and found one and I was happy because the Fall Swap meet is 1 week before the El Tour. Yeah I know, you never change anything a week before a big ride. Not even a flat, right? Anyway it was all good because I found the stem.
I soon would learn about something called chemical corrosion which is a term that describes when two dissimilar metals are welded together…forever. The stem was welded into the fork. Ok, for you young whippersnappers, there was a time, when stems or goosenecks (as they were called) went down into the fork. A long bolt would pull a wedge up to lock things in place. In the event of a crash the two would turn to prevent additional injury and this was always the case with all my crashes.
Anyway, my 5 lb sledgehammer didn’t have enough “crash” in it. The gallon of penetrating fluid had no effect either. I remember my wife deciding to go shopping after about 3 hours on this 2 minute task. I had that “look” she said. But I finally figured out the perfect idea. Just straddle the bike fork over the chain link fence and stick a long pole in the handlebar hole in the stem. This was truly brilliant. With a quick jerk the fork quickly spread and the bike fell off the fence but didn’t fall over because the spread fork kept the bike upright (can you say tripod?). I am so glad I was home alone.
I can’t remember anything else about that afternoon. I must have been so pitiful because on Sunday morning my loving wife decided to buy me a bike. She said that I deserved a new bike worthy of my riding ability. I wanted a Cannondale and University Cycles had them on sale. I stopped to look at a Raleigh Technicum on the way at Bicycle Basement. That guy said “don’t buy a Cannondale ‘cause they’ll beat you to death on centuries. On my first ride the Cannondale flew up the hill at Saguaro National monument like someone was pushing me. It was very responsive. I was fitted with a Fit Kit and no bike has ever fit me better. I rode that bike until 2005. My son is taking care of it now. It is still flawless. Isn’t it James?
In 1994 Lance Armstrong would ride in the El Tour de Tucson. This was early on in his bout with cancer. During training season my group picked up this rider named Tim. After a few rides he started to annoy me a little because all he did was talk. Contrary to popular belief, I am a man of few words when I’m on the road. Swish and whir is all I need to hear. Blah blah blah….Guess what? What Tim? “I am going to get to ride next to Lance from the start”. How’s that? I then found out he had lost his testicles to cancer and also that he had just started riding a year ago. I couldn’t decide what was more amazing. His riding skills? (He was a very good rider) or the fact that he was riding at all? Most folks would have curled up into a ball. I had nothing but admiration and enjoyed his every word from that point on. Lance stopped after 20 miles. Tim placed Gold (<6hrs). My hat (helmet?) was off to both of them.
In 1995 I brought my first full suspension Mt Bike. A black Pro Flex 555. This was also my first attempt at SPD pedals. The bike was sweet, but the pedals took some getting use to. I would crash even before I got on the trail. But I persevered and now I can’t ride without them. The ProFlex was equipped with STX components (just below LX) and worked very well. I took this bike to Korea in 1996 and put 3000 miles on it. While most of it was on the road, I learned of a network of serious trails with the Brown Mt trailhead ½ mile east of where I lived. Wicked climbs, descents and beautiful single-track everywhere. I almost didn’t want to leave that place. The bike didn’t, since a GI offered me what I paid for it, $550. I wonder where it is now.
1997 started me off without a Mtn Bike. The Spring Bike Swap Meet changed that. Steve Strauss sold me his polished Schwinn 96.1 (2 nd to a Home Grown) frame for $100. I scored a Manitou shock for the same price and the LX drive train just came together. This hard tail was light and fast.
1998 took us to the crash site where our RV was T boned by a beautiful green Freightliner hauling a load of school books. (I wish I could say it was a woman driver but the guy’s name was James Edward –spooky!) I was off the bike until I did my first trail at Roper Lake on Thanksgiving that year. I gave thanks to be able to ride. I used my slight back pain to convince my wife I needed a full suspension bike. In Feb of 1999 a black K2 ProFlex 2000 appeared in front of me at the Schwinn store on Speedway for $750 (50% off). This one had the Girvin front shock and oil shocks with coil springs. It weighted 29lbs. It was sweet and handled well. I sold the Schwinn to Marc for almost nothing. It was stolen from him before too long.
After 5 years, parts became harder to find, and more costly, so I retired the Pro Flex in 2005. It sorta became a backyard bike since most of the parts made it to a hardtail that I built for Gina. Of course, building a bike for Gina resulted in an “envy” bike being built for Janee’ (I am a sucker). I built her a sweet silver Access hardtail with red accents and set her up with matching red helmet and Camelbak. This bike went to the backyard after 2 or 3 rides.
A full suspension Fuji Expert 2.0 Mountain bike replaced the K2. It was polished alunminum and weighted 27lbs. It had full XT group with hydraulic brakes and dual control. It was sweet initially but the rear end had issues. Xfusion said my fat butt caused the shock to bottom out and fail. As it turned out the shock mount length was too short and since no one else made a shock that short I was offered the option of returning the bike to Performance. In 2006 I brought my dream bike, a Prophet with the Lefty. This bike is so sweet and forgiving. On many occasions I should have crashed but Lefty just sucks it up and I keep going. I see me on her for some time to come.
What about the road bike? Oh yeah, lets back up a little. In 2005 I upgraded to a carbon fiber fork on the Cannondale. The spokes started breaking so I built a front wheel. Soon I came to realize this bike was too old to keep pouring money into. A spoke broke in the rear wheel about a week before the tour and a black Fuji Team replaced it (the spoke). I took the week off and beat 300 mile on the Fuji to make sure she was broken in. The carbon rear stays made it a very comfortable century.
The day before that Tour my daughter Janee’ and I spent the day at the Bike expo. We couldn’t find the right jersey so we shopped around. At Ajo Bikes we didn’t find a Jersey but we did find a blue tandem for an unbeatable price. I was not looking for a bike. It just found me (us).
The tandem was wonderful and brought my wife into my world. We loved it and decided to get a new one for our anniversary. We have an Aluminum KHS tandem Mt Bike. It is only 38lbs. It doesn’t get ridden much but I take the rides she gives me. I so wish there were more. sigh
In the summer of 2006 we and the new Baileys went on vacation. We rode the tandem everywhere and including some serious single track at Yellowstone. I broke-in the Prophet at Durango. We even went white-water rafting. This was the summer of all summers. Before I go on I must go back again.
As I mentioned earlier my son was not into cycling but that didn’t stop me from throwing bikes at him as I have already shown. When he was in Jr. High, I brought him a used Giant Rincon that I scored from Play-it-Again for $100. Every bearing on this bike was loose. In one day this bike became a great deal. A few days later it became an even better deal for the dirt bag who stole it…on base. James didn’t seem the least bit frazzled.
Before he went to college I scored another hit from Play-it-again. This was the Airex. This strange named bike was stuck in the Huffy section. I got it for $75. Triple butted chrome-moly frame and fork and flawless splatter paint. It was made in Japan by Miyata. It is a nice steel bike he uses for a commuter. Going back (again) the plan was for him to ride this for a semester or two and prove he was worthy of his car. He has never had to prove anything to me. He was a great kid and is a great man. Also there was this cute little girl hiding behind the dorms that I met. Her name was Gina. He deserved and kept the car.
The bike came back home and met the fate of my first few bikes. The backyard. It had Alivio components which were decent. At the end of his 2 nd year of college, James mentioned that he would like his bike back. It was now pieces of other bikes and I didn’t have time to put it together.
Ok here is where it starts to get spooky. I went to the BX on a whim and saw 2 GT Avalanches on display outside. GTs at the BX is like Rolls Royce’s at the Hyundai dealer. Better yet I worked a deal with the manager to get a discount for some scratches. She said 50% off. I should have bought both of them. I figured I could still sell it (at a profit) when he cast it aside as he did his other bikes. He was expecting the Airex and was very surprised when he saw the GT.
The surprise was on me. He has several bikes now. Gina has two. But wait. This is my story, no?
In 2006 we took the best vacation I have had to date with the new Baileys. (I said this before, didn’t I)? Renee and I grabbed them in Flagstaff and headed to Durango. My new Prophet was covered in mud when we left for Colorado Springs. At the Springs, Renee’ and I rode the KHS almost daily. At Yellowstone we rode single track not really made for a tandem. We rode when we got back to Flagstaff. Did a few more rides throughout the year.
Also that year I was training for my fastest El Tour Time. I had many miles of training and was strong. There was a girl with a water bottle that was stronger. On the last training ride before the Tour I decide to ride with the lead pack. Up to this point I pulled myself and did very little wheel sucking. I was hanging effortlessly when Gal (her real name) took a drink from her bottle. I noted this but eased up when she put it backing the cage. Next thing I know I’m running trying to stay upright. You can’t run in road shoes with Look cleats.
I got up and checked on Gal. She was ok but her bike was trashed. I had a wicked case of road rash on my right hip and elbow. My bike had bent handlebars, broken shifter cover, and a bent rear derailleur hanger. She offered to pay for everything and we agreed to meet at the bike shop. I lost her phone number and thought I was lost (hosed). She showed up and was true to her word. The boys at Performance hooked me up the same day. Ok they hooked the bike up. I had this sore open wound on my hip that was not going to heal. I tried to take a day or two off but realized I was just going to have to ride with it. It was more annoying than painful.
The Tour started well but halfway through the annoyance was too great and it was at this time that I had a change of heart regarding this ride. I slowed down and decided to enjoy this ride. I rode the slowest time ever, but enjoyed the conversations all along the way. My wife was worried to death. I guess I should have called her. I still have physical scars but it was a great ride. There was this comment about me not trying hard enough. Hey I rode 109 miles with my shorts stuck to my leg. I really should not have ridden the Tour that year, but I am glad I did. Little did I know this would be my last year riding as a local.
I must mention the Pink Bike (easy Janee’). I brought Renee’ a Pink Electra Hawaiian 3spd cruiser for Christmas 06, which we celebrated in Phoenix. Renee was surprised. We took the bike outside and before anyone knew it, Dad set his cane aside, jumped on, and took off. It was an amazing joyous moment I will not forget. That was the highlight for that bike. It now belong to Amanda Lopez.
Going back to 06, I put the road bike aside for a while and hit the trails. In Feb 07, I did the 50 Year Trail. I got lost but it was still sweet. A few days later I made a life changing decision to take the job I currently have in Carlsbad CA. What a move I made in the spring of 07!
My first few months here were on the beach at San Onofre. I rode the old Highway 1 almost daily. Eventually I hit a few trails up that way. I would move to Escondido in the summer. In the summer of 2008 I was out wandering toward the beach on a Sunday morning when I happened upon this guy out on Melrose Rd. I was trying to find a different way to the beach since I was tiring of the usual route. Kelly Jay was really nice and decided to show me the way, literally. Climbing South College Blvd from 78, he flew up the hill. This was my first clue to learning that he is a monster (rider). At the top he gave me a few route options before he turned around, since he was really headed for Hemet. He told me of a cycling club NCCC and invited me to ride with them. Wow, I was very impressed that someone would go this far out-of-their-way. This was nothing for him. He rides a single speed on our group rides. He is a monster!
A few weeks later I hooked up with NCCC. I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of both the Roadies and the Spokey Dokes for the past few years.
2008 was highlighted by my son joining me in the El Tour. Words fail to describe what this meant to me. There is a phase that I sometimes use but my wife is not found of it so I won’t say it. The San Diego flatlands really helped me prepare for this ride. I rode the Tour De Poway a month before. There was a hill or two in that century. I was so excited that I went out and brought a new Fuji Professional 1.0 carbon fiber bike with Dura-Ace. Words don’t describe how nice it rides. It was a triple, but not for long. The Ultegra brakes will be ok for now.
The night before the ride my son told me he was concerned that he might not be able to keep up with me for the entire ride. I assured him that he would. He then stated he had only ridden 80 miles, at which I replied that was plenty. When asked how long it took him to ride this distance he said it took a little over 3 hours because he didn’t want to push himself. I told him that I would wave goodbye to him at the start and for him to just take off.
For some reason I became so happy I became complacent. We arrived to the start late and I didn’t care. We started in the back of the Silver group and I didn’t care. This changed when it took almost 30 minutes to get up to speed but I was still overwhelmed that my son was riding in the Tour, with me. 10 years before this I would not have ever imagined this would occur. I was a happy camper…
After a few miles I told him to go for it. He beat my best time by a few seconds. He is amazing and fast. I was not a slouch that day either having made up a lot of the time lost. I caught my friends Lou and Deb near the Sabino Crossing and was told James had passed them an hour before. I was riding very well at this point but with 25 to go an oversight would come up to “bite” me. I overlooked the fact that I went too long without a bite to eat. No fuel, no go. After I recovered I was good to go. 3 miles from the finish the leg cramp came. After a few minutes of dancing I pressed on, not to be denied the finish. While my time was much slower than I planed it was still one of the best days in my life. Good ride, good food, family.
I was staying on my performance plateau this time and did so until the morning of 23 Jan 09. Just north of Lilac and West Lilac, a German Sheppard slid off the embankment and ran into my bike knocking me off the bike. BAM! Phil and Debbie were telling me not to get up. Was my foot under my head? I felt ok, I thought. After Debbie’s twenty questions I asked “How’s my bike?” That is what we do. The bike was ok sans a scraped seat and rear skewer. I was unscathed.
When I got up the first thing I noticed was my helmet was busted, I felt ok and wasn’t bleeding so I started riding home but halfway there I started feeling uneasy riding with an unsafe helmet, so I called Manny to drive me home. Later that day I brought a new helmet and glasses. Joe and the guys at Performance were amazed I was ok.
The next morning I wasn’t. I had been looking forward to riding with the Spokey Dokes at Sycamore Canyon for some time, but it was not to be that day. My business trip on that Monday which included time with the Baileys would be made irregardless of how I felt. It was. That Saturday I did a decent trail on the loaner bike James built. Nice bike, Sweet trail. Sore tailbone. Advil.
The next few weeks had me really concerned about my ability to do what I love. (That must be apparent by now) The Advil worked just fine until I stopped taking it. That company has an internet monopoly because every medical website recommends it for tailbone injury. Not wanting to become addicted to Advil, I stopped taking it and just sucked it up, because that is what a real man does. Yeah, ouch, yeah, ouch. I’ve learned that crash recovery is slower as we age. Much slower.
After 2 incredibly long months I was back on the bike. I rode with the Roadies on 4 April to see Dee (and Maria) off on the DeeTour (coast-to-coast). I so wish I could do that but am doubtful I ever will. Things are back to normal and I have enjoyed a bunch of road and trail rides since. I hate to say this but the trails are after my heart (lungs and legs too). Still, the sound that emanates when you stand and crank on a road bike is…..yeah.
On 16 May (a few days ago) I rode past the spot where I thought my ride had ended. This is one of the clubs better ride routes although there is considerable climbing. After you get to the top it is really is a beautiful ride. Without the dogs (female?) it was uneventful. It was just another wonderful ride. And as always, I look forward to the next ride where ever and however.
This story started as a simple list of the bicycles I have owned and just evolved into the 14 pages you’ve just read. If you ask me why, my answer would be the same. “I dunno, I JUST LOVE BIKES”. Maybe my son knows the answer.
In May 09 I rented a bike while working in Tel Aviv, Israel. “My” bike was a Giant Mt Bike with a 22 inch frame (it was a giant), 18spd thumb shifters, a welded crown shock, and a kickstand that wouldn’t stay up. The 12 inch wide seat cushion proved anything but comfortable. In spite of these shortcomings, I had a great ride along the Mediterranean and a local river path. I even got a little off road action for a mile or so, which brought the kickstand issue to my attention. In the end I guess it doesn’t make a difference what you ride, as long as you do.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. I overlooked a bike. James, Gina, James and Rosa and Joe came out in 2009 and we stayed at the beach (San Onofre). We put my Trek 7000 back into commission. It is a satin purple bike I brought used in 2003 for commuter duty. I put slicks on it and rode it to work almost every day until the big move where it ended up sitting for 2 years. Well James brought some tires with him and we set it up for the trails. Joe rode it and it performed well but still needs a little love. James took it out to San Clemente trails for a bit. I think I have a hardtail now.
MAN, is this thing going to ever end? How many bikes have I had?
It doesn’t end. The Trek had been in service as a commuter for the past year or so. With the original parts starting to fail from the abuse of zero servicing and hard riding, I finally came to the conclusion that it’s a white elephant. A few days before my last (most recent) birthday I came upon a great deal on my latest ride, a shiny new Diamondback Insight 1 from Performance. At less than $250 it is the cheapest new bike I’ve brought since, back in the 70’s. I paid $500 for the Gitane back in 1974, so it was before then.
Anyway this is a cool bike with incredible value. I’ve replaced the tires and pedals so far. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. It will do it better as I replace the substandard parts (Avid brakes await installation). More to come….
PS: My 3 year old grandson James IV has better bike handling skills than I do, so hopefully this will be a never ending story! His Trek Jet will soon be replaced by a Specialized Hot Rock (aluminum frame). LIFE IS GOOD!