My First (Real) Bike
Around the shop, I am often asked how I got into cycling. It all started in 1984. I was 12 years old and my “gang” would cavort around town on their bikes. Since I was the only one without a two wheeler, I would usually either run behind them or occasionally I would tie a rope to one of their bikes and let them pull me on my skateboard. Don’t get me wrong, I had bikes before but they were nothing special: the Schwinn Pixie my whole family learned to ride, the Columbia Thunder Road that I broke my front tooth on, and a 24” Schwinn Varsity that was given to me but was way too small. It wasn’t until my mom dragged me down to the local Schwinn store (Well’s Goodyear Tire store) that my love affair truly began. I had saved my paper route and grass cutting money for a few weeks so I felt like a big man with $120 in my pocket. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be enough. As we perused the row of “10 speeds” in front of us, three models stood out, Sprint, World, and World Sport. The Sprint had steel wheels but was in my price range, the World had alloy wheels plus a front QR hub. The World Sport had front AND rear QR’s plus downtube mounted shifters. Mom knew I wanted one of the better bikes and she knew I didn’t have enough money so she asked the employee if they had layaway. They did! So I deposited my $120 on a beautiful gloss black World with white and blue pinstripes and returned two weeks later with the balance. It wasn’t long before I started making modifications: cutting off the foam handlebar padding and wrapping them in Benotto tape, adding bottle cages (no braze-ones!) removing the “safety levers” and moving the shifters from the stem to the downtube. I had also started reading magazines like “Winning” and “Bicycle Guide” and quickly felt that being a cyclist was more than just riding a bicycle. It was about being part of a community. For the next two years my buddies and I would ride all over town, sometimes venturing out of our own city limits to such exotic locations as Edwardsville and Jerseyville and, on one or two occasions, St Louis! It was during these trips that I had my first taste of freedom; I felt I could go anywhere so long as I had my bike, and I loved it!
That's all for now, take care and safe cycling! Tim