You know the deal. I ask the questions. You give the answers, like an interrogation, but without the bad cop.
As I explained on The Paceline this week, Evel Knievel was primarily responsible for inspiring me to ride bikes. Kids couldn’t jump motorcycles over buses, but we could jump BMX bikes over piles of bricks or our less intelligent friends, whichever was to hand. I lived in that bike as motorcycle-surrogate paradigm until I was into my teens, at which point I got really interested in girls and drugs.
Then in college my roommate got a mountain bike, and I was like, “OH, YEAH!! Bikes are awesome!” So I gathered all the money I had ($315) and bought a white crackle painted Trek Antelope, and I was off and riding again. That bike, and after it was stolen, its successors carried me all over this stupid city I live in. I jumped them off curbs. I skidded them. I carried them up and down apartment stairs. I stripped them bare and rattle-canned them yellow to deter theft.
After graduating, the bikes got progressively nice. I got a proper mountain bike and a proper road bike. Friends who were fully into those scenes showed my where to ride trails, how to draft, when to upshift and stand into the pedals.
I was putatively an adult, but let’s just say I had (and still have) strongly childish tendencies, and the bike, once it’s planted in your psyche, has a way of keeping you young. Every time I drifted into a grown-up rut, someone would come along and remind me that bikes are awesome.
Evel was the first though.
This week’s TCI Friday wonders who or what first inspired you to ride. Did you ever drift away? And what or who brought you back?
Check out the current lineup of Shimano road shoes, from the S-PHYRE to the handsome RC1.
I can’t remember ever being inspired to ride by anyone. Growing up, both my parents were road cyclists and my older siblings had bikes as well, so it just seemed natural to have a bike and want to ride it. As for drifting away, I’ve never fully walked away from riding, but there have definitely been times where I stepped back and greatly reduced my time in the saddle. It seems to be cyclical – I will have several years of riding a steady amount, then maybe 2 or 3 years of increased riding, followed by a year or two where I have to push myself to get out and ride, but I always come back to it.
When we moved to SoCal from the Midwest I did a number of things to stay in shape but cycling wasn’t among them. One day playing hoops at the beach a real gem of a human being undercut me and I badly sprained my ankle. I’m lying there with a softball size ankle as a bunch of dudes hoover over me and say “Think you can get off the court?” Put the basketball away and got out my bike. Never looked back
We rode bikes as a family when I was a kid. Nothing serious, but a lot of fun. Then in college, I had a friend who inspired me to start mountain biking. Life without a car inspired me to commute, and then I progressively worse need channeled my competitiveness onto a road bike.
Now that I’ve been riding more seriously for over a decade, I have a few slightly older friends, who inspire me consistently to push myself as well as simply enjoy the wide world the bicycle allows you to enter.
*worse knee not need
At first, Evel powered all of my banana seat dreams. Then Greg Lemond got me on skinny tires in my early teens. Mid teens saw the first motocross bike between my legs and it was motors for years. Mid 20’s came and I got a good mountain bike and read about Julie Furtado, Miguel Martinez and Tinker so I quit motors cold turkey. Mid 50’s now and it’s still bicycles, bicycles, bicycles!
Evel was an influence for me. Getting my red Schwinn Sting Ray with banana seat was a dream come true. All the kids were riding bikes on our street back then, and it was the thing to do. And then it became all about BMX. What got me into road riding was a time I went to my friend’s house and we went to the basement. Back behind the furnace was my friend’s big brother’s bike. He was in college. It was a white Raleigh with Campy copy Simplex components, and sew-ups. It was a magical machine, very technical and complicated looking, and yet beautiful. It absolutely was a turning point in my life. I still loved my BMX bike, but a seed was planted in me that grew and grew and has never abated.
My Big Wheel. I loved that thing and wore out at least two of them. I still remember the feeling of swoop and flow; it’s still there on the bike today (and skis).
I was a little kid in the inner city of Buffalo, NY. At first, we kids were scooting up and down the street on those little fruit box scooters that you built by taking apart a roller skate, hammering it into a board, and then hammering a fruit box and primitive handlebars onto the board. It was all about motion and whizzing around. Then when I was about 6, my newly minted stepdad came home with a Salvation Army 20″ bicycle painted weird pinkish red and which rode on solid rubber tires–you can see that bike in the link below. I immediately fell in love with it and rode it until those solid rubber tires needed replacing.
I only fell off the wagon during my undergrad years, when I stopped riding bicycles and got into drugs, booze, motorcycles, girls, and occasionally, my studies. But all that stuff takes its toll on mind and body, so I started riding again to get my head on straight. I’ve been back on the bike ever since. To make a long story longer, go to the link below, to a post I put together 9 years ago when I finished my 60th lap around the sun:
My mother and I moved back to Va Beach when I was going into second grade and I did not know how to ride a bike. In first grade I used to walk the two blocks to school I was in, but now I wanted to ride. It was not any particular icon that made me want to do it besides seeing other kids in my neighborhood riding. However, my mother’s best friend’s husband, a successful local attorney was way into road racing. He was probably the equivalent of an Elite/Cat 1 racer by today’s designations and when we would be at their house he’d come in from his after work rides in his gear that I thought looked weird, but was still fascinating to my 6-7 yro mind. His bike as I was told many years later was a custom he had gone to Italy to have made for him. My mom hard very little money and without asking her they purchased a Schwinn StingRay for me in purple and then Aunt Gail as I called her taught me how to ride on their street in W Ghent, Norfolk. I rode everywhere on everything from then on. My only “lull” was probably late in high school and through my first couple years in college. I was obsessed with skateboarding and music at that point. Cycling remained on the back burner until ’87 when I got my first mountain bike (a pale blue Rockhopper with pink decals) and began riding with my roommate who was a messenger in DC. I put slicks on it for riding around town and then put the Farmer Johns back on to poach the assorted parks on the weekends. I haven’t stopped since.
My brother and I would tell our mom we were going to the community pool, and we’d dump our trunks-rolled-up-in-a-towel in some bushes and head out on adventures on our bikes. We’d ride what seemed like dozens of miles from home (it was only three or four) and go to the zoo or out to the Kiddyland Amusement Park or the miniature golf place where the guy who owned it would always let us play a couple of rounds for free. We didn’t need much money, just a few bucks we scrounged up.
Being raised Catholic meant going to church with my parents on Sundays until I got to fifth grade or so when I would tell them I was going to a later mass and I’d just take off on my bike. I had no idea where I was going. I would just ride, sometimes getting lost and having to stop and ask directions back to my neighborhood.
Didn’t ride much in college. But after college I was playing hockey three nights a week. I used to Rollerblade 10 miles one way to my office every day. A friend said we should ride to work. It was faster and less work than blading on windy days. So I bought a cheap flat bar bike and started riding every day. Have never stopped since then.
I rode until I got my license. It was transportation and fun. After that, I discovered Greg LeMond (the year team orders gave Hinault his fifth) and started riding again, if sporadically. In grad school, I bought a bike (Schwinn with foam on the bars) a friend said he saw cheap at a garage sale and started riding for fitness and to kill the boredom. When that bike got wrecked (a car pulled out in front of me and I shortened the wheelbase considerably) I finished grad school. Got a job and bought a new Schwinn (1989) and have never looked back.