Cycling Biography

I’ve had bicycles my entire life, but never really considered cycling a passion until about 5 years ago. Up until then it had always been a side activity.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t done some serious cycling in my youth, in fact I started endurance cycling early, but it was always overshadowed by some other activity.

Steve & Elaine
For my first communion in 1958, my parents bought me a 3-speed English racer.

Look at me! Showing off my ride with my arm around a rich young dame. I'm sporting a black suit, white tie, handkerchief in the suit pocket, shined shoes, legs crossed and lookin boss-A.

That bike went through a lot of changes. At the end of its useful life it had changed colors a few times, sported chopper handlebars then bull handlebars. I raised the seat up high, ditched the fenders and dorky headlight, and changed the tires to all black.

In its last years it was probably the bicycle equivalent of an old 56 Chevy painted flat black, or today’s Keith Richards. Very cool.

As you can clearly tell from this picture, I was already showing signs of being a future member of the Badass Redneck Cycle Club.

Best Friend Gary
Throughout my entire youth, Gary was my best friend and one day his dad told us a story, proudly recalling that when he was our age he rode his bike all the way to Glen Cove and back, which was about 40 miles round trip. Like two hungry sunfish, Gary and I snapped at the bait and said “We could do that!”, and it immediately became our goal. In retrospect that was probably the birth of my of endurance activities.

Gary, his friend Louie, and I formed a cycling club. On our official club rides we wore a uniform consisting of dungarees (aka jeans) sneakers (aka tennis shoes), and a blue-and-white checkered tab-collared dress shirt. Yes we were cool.

For us kids, this was like planning a huge expedition. We actually went on training rides, each a little longer, before the big day.

At the time I was only 9, but Gary and Louie were both 11. Our day was a huge success, in fact so much that we went six miles further on to Bayville, to a beach on the Long Island Sound that we were familiar with.

Swimming felt great, but the sun and salt water dried us out and made the ride home less comfortable with wet dungarees.

One funny incident occurred on the trip. We stopped for a break to eat our sandwiches sitting on a roadside curb. After finishing them, Gary noticed that his mother, who packed our lunches, had packed one more Oreo cookie in my bag than his. Gary demanded it, saying that it was a mistake and it was his. We wound up wrestling in the street until we realized that the cookie was completely crumpled. Then we just laid on our backs breathing heavily and laughing loudly. This was a familiar scene for Gary and me.

Anyway, that day we did a 52-mile ride, not too shabby (as my dad would say) for a couple of boys on three speed English racers.

My next bike was a used Schwinn, now considered vintage. Here’s a picture of what one would look like brand new in 1952, but mine was bare bones stripped–down, flat black, which I bought used in 1961.

It was pretty much the equivalent of today’s mountain bike with thick wheels, except it had one gear and no hand brakes. You stopped by quickly holding the pedal backwards. This braking motion facilitated skidding sideways into stops, which we all did in those days because it was very cool.

That bike was a workhorse and I had a lot of fun on the dirt trails through the swamps in Queens. One day I went into my back yard to get my bike, and it was gone. Someone had stolen it.

To be continued…

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