Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bikes that I have owned (and some history)

Somehow I have managed to own only a relatively small number of bikes over my life, despite owning three bikes right now.  That number might seem large, depending on your perspective.  These are the bikes that I have owned and something about how I used them.

(1) My first bike was a single speed with a banana seat.  Much of my memory of it was riding down the street on my first successful ride, some months before the John Kennedy assassination.  I'm sure there was more use but memory fails me here.  It remains an important bike because it was the bike I learned to ride on.

(2) There was a single speed that I owned somewhere between that first bike and my three speed.  My memory is foggy about this one but I do recall that it had a light integrated into the frame and the light was powered by D cells.  I'm sure the light was less useful than the IQX on my current road bike.

(3) I owned  a three speed briefly in 1973.  I bought it to help with a paper route that I was just starting.  My paper route included a subsidized housing project for elderly people, next door to the low income housing project, and I delivered their papers for a few weeks.  I would leave my bike on the sidewalk and drop the paper at the doors.  As I dropped a paper off, I looked back and a guy was grabbing my bike and I raced over and grabbed it.  He was spinning around, saying "it's my bike" as I said the same thing.  He was bigger and won, throwing me to the ground and stealing my bike.  I stopped delivering papers that day.

(4) I started working at local grocery store a month before my fifteen birthday, a job I would keep through high school.  I bought a Sears Free Spirit, which in my mind was an English racer: it had ten speeds and a drop handlebar.  I rode it to work and back and sometimes rode it out of town with one or two of my brothers.  We rode from Springfield to Amherst through Holyoke and South Hadley and also from Springfield to West Granville, to a stream in the state forest there.  I've checked since and these rides were about 40 and 50 miles respectively.  I had a odometer and speedometer on this bike that gave the same numbers.  It must have been accurate but I recall once seeing that I was riding 50 MPH down the north side of the notch on Rte 116 heading towards Amherst, which seem unlikely now.  I owned this bike from 1973 through 1976.  This bike gave me my first taste of freedom allowing me the opportunity to leave the blighted neighborhood I grew up in, if only temporarily.

(5) After high school, I bought a real road bike (at least in my eyes then), a Motobecane Nomade Sprint.  I kept this bike until 1985, right through college and beyond.  I went on my first tour with it, riding from Saint Albans, VT down to Amherst, MA with my then girlfriend.  I was a connoisseur of tiny stream fishing back then and carried a five foot Ugly Stick and fished big trout out of small holes in tiny streams for dinner on that tour.

(6) In 1985 I decided that I would do a big tour and bought a real touring bike, sort of, a 1984 model Trek 520.  This was a full production bike and not a frameset, which is what friends of mine bought a couple of years earlier.  It was more of randonneuring bike then.  At that time, the Trek 620 was the full touring bike with eyelets for racks and fenders, including low riders.  I rode the 520 to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and all over New England that summer.  I used it on a number of tours after that including another New England tour (before I left to live in the upper Midwest in the late 80s), across Colorado, around the Olympic peninsula, around the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, around the upper Midwest, and several shorter tours in New England.  I used it as my road bike until 1997.  I last toured on it on Labor Day weekend in 2001, riding from Machias to Lubec, ME and back.  After that tour it was on loan to three friends consecutively, two using it as a commuter and one of them pushing the bike to a 19.5 MPH average on a sprint triathlon.  I donated the bike to Bike Not Bombs in 2005.

(7) I replaced the Trek 520 as my road bike in 1997 with a new Lemond Alpe d'Huez.  I could never make that bike go much faster than I rode my 520 but I had 21,000 miles of fun on it, including a lot of riding hilly New England routes.  I gifted this bike to a friend after I took possession of my current road bike in 2007.  He was still using it as his road bike the last time I heard from him.

(8) My current road bike is an Independent Fabrication Club Racer purchased in 2007.  It's still fun to get on this bike. This is my first custom bike and while I love riding it, I hope it's not my last custom bike.

(9) My commuter/dirt road bike/child hauler is a Surly Cross Check from 2009.  The last time I hauled a child on it was a couple of weeks ago.  It remains a great commuter. Update: this bike was totaled in a crash in September 2016. I survived unbroken. It was replaced with a very similar bike.

(10) I bought a Swobo Novak last year as a neighborhood bike that also see use as an occasional commuter and a snow bike (with appropriate tires).

I have plans for my next bike but that's a couple of years off yet.

How many bikes have you owned?  And how many do you have in your stable today?



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