12 October 2005

Bicycle Blogging

Is my experience normal?

Where I grew up, kids rode bicycles everywhere.
I had one, my sister had one.
When mine was broken, I rode (and broke) hers!

I had a paper route. The route covered about two miles.......four miles round trip.
I rode that route 7 Days a week, then used the bike to ride to play baseball, football, or basketball with friends.

My folks had agreed to buy me a new bike.
Nothing but a "Schwinn" bicycle would do........
the quality of other bikes
had been such a disappointment.

We went to the bike shop and got brochures on
the different models that were available.
A model called the "Phantom" immediately caught my eye!
This bike was called a "middleweight" at the time.
English style commuter bikes with their skinny little tires and three-speed gearshifts were being imported by this time, and the Phantom was a compromise between those and the "Balloon Tire Bombers" that had been produced up to the early 50's.
It had no gearshift........one speed. It had a "knee action" suspension on the front, and a coaster brake, (the kind where you push the pedal backwards for braking action.)
It had a horn in the tank. The horn was a pain in the butt because it needed batteries all the time. The horn got wet when it rained, and quit working in short order.
My Phantom was Candy Apple Red.

When I see pictures of the Phantom now, it reminds me a lot of Pee Wee Herman's bike in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

It was cool!
I remember it cost $70, which was a ton of money circa 1957.
My Dad was hesitant to spend that kind of money.
Mom was in my corner........she argued that I used the bike on my paper route, and besides, it was what I wanted and it would be nice to give me something I wanted so badly.

Dad gave in.

Fast Forward to 1981.
When I first met Sara Jean here in our little town, I rode a bike for exercise and errands. I had mapped out an 11 mile course that I rode daily, weather permitting.
By this time I was riding a bike with more speeds than I knew how to use. You shifted gears with two little levers at the center of the handlebars. I never learned to use the shifter well, but I did learn to downshift a couple gears to make it easier going uphill.

I actually got to the point where I had "runner's high" from riding every day!
When I'd miss my ride, my body didn't feel normal.

Then "Big Bubba" was born, and life got complicated with a job or two.
I quit riding.
I hung the bike from hooks in the garage, and watched as, over the years, the tires decayed and the frame rusted.

When he was old enough, I bought Big Bubba a 10-speed bike.
He rode a little, but not like his Old Man when I was his age.
I rode Big Bubba's bike now and then, and liked the feeling.

Forward again to today:
I've been studying bikes for awhile.
They're amazing.
You can easily spend $4,000 for "Lance Armstrong" bikes with frames made of exotic materials that weigh 12 pounds!
$700 buys a recumbent bicycle so you can sleep while you ride.

But something else caught my eye:
Last week, for less than $200, I bought a 21-speed
"Mountain Bike" with a front disc brake, front and rear suspension, quick-release front wheel,
and shifters on each hand grip.
(Is it possible to compare this bike to the $70 Schwinn Phantom my Dad bought in 1959?)

I'm now back to riding my 11 mile course every-other-day.
25 years ago, I could do it in 35 minutes.
Now it takes me an hour.
(Let's see.......11 miles ridden in one hour would be what......
11 m.p.h. average, right?)

I'm gonna work on getting the speed up, but not to the point where I don't enjoy the ride.
The idea is to work off the calories, and get back to the point where chicks whistle at my legs!

Gimme a little while!


Anonymous said...

You made me smile and inspired me to take a spin on my Schwinn "Balloon Tire Bomber" on this beeeuuutiful afternoon. Yep!! I still like it best. Eat your heart out.

Infinitegtr said...

Schwinn, Red Dirt bike in the early 80's when everything was about BMX. Even wore a Honda motorcycle racing jersey with padded elbows when I rode...

More often than not, though, it was a jet hunting down enemy Migs, tangling in a hornet's nest of a numerically superior enemy, enaging alternately in long distance missile attacks or high speed low altitude bomb runs.

Had the same coaster brake though. But my red knobby tires left red skid marks on sidewalks and drive ways all over town...

Aviatrix said...

My first bike was a hand-me-down CCM with coaster brakes. Nothing special and I'm not sure it was even "mine" : just a bike I was allowed to use.

I wanted a "ten-speed" when ten was the maximum number. My parents said I had to pay half. I was saving up for half of what they cost in the department store when my dad brought one home that he had found in the classifieds. A lady had bought it, but been afraid to ride it, so it was brand new condition without the brand new price. I paid my half, largely in quarters and old dollar bills that had been folded to fit through the slot in the piggy bank.

It was just a store-brand bike, and the shifting was terrible compared to what they have now, but I learned to adjust the derailleurs and rode it everywhere. I finally gave it to charity when I bought a brand new 21-speed touring bike. With a men's frame. Ladies' frames flex too much.