3 January 1992
A radio commentator named Paul Harvey once noted an interest in hobby patterns among his friends and historical figures. One of the patterns mentioned fits me like a T. I've always had interest in simple propulsion systems of which I have total control. Thus is linked an interest in walking, sailing, flying small airplanes, canoeing, and riding bicycles.
The first bicycle I remember was actually a trike. Living on Meadow Lane in Taylor Mill Kentucky, I had a good-sized trike. It was my pride and joy. It got used and abused so much that the frame broke at its attachment to the head tube. Our neighbor, Mr. Charles Strickland, had a welding set in his basement, and was kind enough to weld it back together. Now, I really had the greatest trike in the neighborhood. No one else had that welding torch scorched paint. It's one of the first times I remember being proud of being different.
The next bike almost killed me. It was a Schwin with fenders and training wheels. Bikes were not quite as small then as they make them now, and I think the wheels were 20 inches. I rode it around for a long time with the training wheels on, probably the summer before first grade. Finally, one morning before school that fall, and before dad and had to go to work, both parents and I went out to the lane to try without the training wheels.
The first attempt was not successful. On the second try, I got up and rolling. I was really staying up this time. Looking down the wheels staying under me, I could hard old hardly believe that I was really riding on my own. Then I remembered looking up to see my parents. I was sure that they would be proud and beaming from ear to ear to see their first born really riding on his own.
But when I looked into their faces, I saw anguish, and screaming, and then I knew that they were yelling at me! For the life of me, I could not figure out why they would be yelling at me at one of the greatest moments of my life. It took seconds to process what they were saying, especially given my confusion.
What they were shouting was look out! Down the street in front of me was Mr. Andy Hook on his way to work. I was in the middle of the street, not looking where I was going, (head in the cockpit). Mr. Hook was stopping, but in the commotion I couldn't figure out how to stop myself. In the end I just ran off the road into our yard and fell down in the grass.
The next bike I owned was a hand me down from my uncle, Charles Allnutt. It was an amazingly heavy 26-inch bike that he had ridden ten years earlier. Unusual was the overall description for the cycle. No one else in the neighborhood had a black bike, Bright metallic blues and reds were the in colors then. No one had ever seen a bike with a big right chrome spring on the front fork. Only in the last couple years have fork springs made a reappearance on mountain bikes. My father took me on a Wednesday day off to see Popa and Nini, my paternal grandparents. In their garage was Charles' old bike. The tires were a little mushy, and my first ride was in the grass of their yard on Park Avenue, but I could tell from the beginning that I was really going to like this behemoth.
Once I got home and pumped the tires up, I was sold. Friends came in looked at the bike and I soon was involved in races down the street. With some practice, I was able to win all the downhill events. But with this 35-pound bike, I was never able to win the up and back events. Getting back to pumping up to tires; one of the neat things about the bike was its slanted valve tubes. Everyone else's valve stems simply stuck straight top into the wheel. But mine were Aero dynamically slanted back at a 45-degree angle. It was not until I was an adult and accidentally rode some distance on a nearly flat tire, that I realized that all tubes will slip under these conditions and give that slanted back, racy look.
This bike went with me when our family moved to Wallace Avenue, in Covington, Kentucky. It was the last thing lashed on to the back of the moving van. As a prospective eighth grader with no friends and no city sense, the bike became my primary pastime the summer we moved. (Besides listening to the top 40 on WSAI. including " Leaning on a Lamp Post" and "Red Rubber Ball". ) I would spend hours with younger brother Jack circling our block an especially circling the old pump stands the vacant gas station at 20th and Greenup. We kept our bikes in the tumble down garage behind the house, and was out of that garage that someone finally stole our bikes about the time the school started.
The next bike that I rode seriously was a blue three-speed English racer that dad had bought to help him stay in shape. I was a senior when I started riding it a lot around the city. It was almost always my transportation to the Treadway' s in Latonia. This bike served me in my first year of college at Duke and was my means of getting around all over Durham. It made a car unnecessary.
After I returned to school in Cincinnati, I bought an orange Nishiki ten-speed for about 120 dollars. I began riding this bike back and forth to college in my senior year, and continued in the first two years of medical school. Within a couple weeks of our marriage and moving into an apartment near Vine Street in Cincinnati, this bike was stolen from outside the building.
Because Diane and I only had one car and she needed to go back and forth to work (and because we were as poor as church mice) I very soon found myself the proud owner of another red Japanese bike much like the Nishiki. This bike lasted about a year before someone stole it while I was on call at Good Samaritan Hospital.
After moving to Covington for residency, Diane and I bought a yellow Century and which I still had. It is locked up behind the TAC Surgeons office. I use it as my around the base bike. Having survived ten years, it is by far my most long-lived bike. It helped me get back and forth to residency. During long weekend days on call, I would carry it up to the roof and ride it around the top of Elizabeth Hospital for some exercise. I smashed the handlebars slightly with our sailboat, Dawn Treader while we lived in Ridgewood. It was mostly left alone at Langley Air Force Base. I repainted it while living in Texas, but couldn't sell it. In Germany, Diane tried to drive-in around the Hunsruck and Holland. Back in the states it is delegated to sitting in the rain for one-mile jaunts around the base.
Living at Langley the first time, I decided to commute back in forth from Bethel Manner on a bike. I didn't feel comfortable riding on the highway, so it was off to the bike store for a brand-new kind of bike called a mountain bike. This one was built by a little-known company in Washington State known as Richly. Later, these bikes became collector's items. It was just the ticket for going back in forth to the base on the gravel side strip along the road. I rode the bike so much that it lived on the carport in Bethel Manor. However, when a neighbor was moving, my mountain bike and another neighbor's were both taken. I never saw my bicycle again.
The replacement bike was a Fuji mountain bike, which finished up my time in Virginia, and when I became interested in sport riding in Texas, became the first bike on which I rode 100 miles in one day. Because of the eight-hour experience of riding this century, I bought a new road bike to make life a little easier. The Schwin Traveler cost two hundred sixty dollars and was like heaven to me. I failed to train well enough the next year to complete a century, but really enjoyed long rides on this bike.
In Germany, both bikes were important. My earliest exploring was done on the mountain bike that I had shipped to my mailbox at Hahn Air Force Base. (The car took two months to arrive.) I well remember my first trip on the gravel forest roads to the top of Idar Koph, the local high point. The bike also was transportation back and forth from base for the first year. In the last two years of assignment in Germany, I again began sport riding. I rode about 1,000 miles in 1990, and then increased to over 2,000 miles in 1991, including a solo century along the Mosel River in five hours and 20 minutes. Biking partner for much of this time was Scotty Michael, a physical therapist at the Hospital.
Back in Virginia, I bought the dream racing machine that I had been looking forward to Germany. This was a Giant Allegre with Schimano 105 components. This bike raised my average training speed from 17 mph to 19 mph on most rides. I look forward to doing more with the bike in the future.