Grumpa Joe Pulling Into the JobI began riding a bike when I was nine years old. I borrowed bicycles to learn how. Many of the bikes were far larger than I was. I had to roll the bike up to the curb so I would be able to swing my leg over the bar. Once I was on the bike. I straddled the top tube to reach the pedals. In order to stop, I had to roll back to the curb or fall over. By the time I was eleven I could ride well. My Dad bought me a new Schwinn. It was a beauty. That Schwinn carried me through grammar school, high school, and college.

After I got married, I rode the bike for fitness. Eventually, my oldest son modernized it. He painted the frame black, and added anodized blue rims. To make it sexy, he added drum brakes and a five speed derailleur. It went to college with him where someone stole it. 

 As an adult, I bought my first speed bike in 1971. What a new experience that was, but I learned to love it. The skinny tires and hand brakes were so different from the Schwinn with the fat tires and the coaster brake. When I was at the Schwinn shop buying the new skinny wheel model, I told the owner that he needed to sell a fat tire bike with a derailleur and gears. His reply, “why the heck would anyone want something like that?” Two years later, the mountain bike revolution began in California.

 At first, I limited myself to riding the new “Sportsman” around town, but soon began commuting ten miles to my job. Once I logged a thousand miles in a single year something happened that motivated me to do longer rides. In nineteen eighty-seven, I signed up for a one week vacation tour with Michigan Bicycle Touring. This fully supported tour gave me the bug to do it again. I have been on many one week tours since. A year after the Michigan tour, I signed up for the National Bicycle Rally held in Flagstaff, Arizona. The League of American Wheelmen sponsored the rally. They have since modernized their name to The League of American Bicyclists. It was at the rally, that I learned the majority of people attending were members of a local bike club. I was not a member of any club until I got home. I searched out “Folks On Spokes,” a club operating in the south suburbs of Chicago. I joined, and have been a member ever since. I have served as Vice President/Program Chairman, President, and Member at Large. They are a very active club and support bicycle advocacy. We emphasize safe riding, and helmet wear. You may go to the link below to learn more about Folks On Spokes and other bicycle related sites.

Folks on Spokes,

League of Illinois Bicyclists,

League of American Bicyclists,

15 Responses

  1. Loved the Harry Reid golf joke. I’ll have to use that some time. But came across your page searching for the Roseland Rink and noticed you had it as a search item for not content.

    Did you skate there and what can you recall? I grew up in Chicago and doing research on the rinks of Chicago during the 1940s and 1950s.

    • I roller skated at the Swank on 111th and Western Ave in Chicago. It was near Roseland where I went to high school on 111th and Indiana Ave. I wrote about the experience in my memoirs titled Junior.

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