|This is what my Stingray looked like.|
|This is what Tim's looked like with the cool stick shifter|
We rode those bikes to school just about every day and I know I took mine apart more times than my mother would have liked. We put playing cards on the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle. I did all sorts of things with the handlebars, and eventually I turned it into a BMX bike, or course this was at the very beginning of when BMX was getting going and I thought I was pretty cool, but then other friends started getting the latest Mongoose bikes and all the other really cool BMX stuff.
About that time I went on a boy scout camping trip to Lecompton where we were supposed to ride our bicycles, but all I had was my Stingray, not exactly the kind of bicycle you want to ride any kind of distance with. But, as it turned out a friend of mine choose not to ride and he has a Schwinn Varsity to ride, similar to the one shown below.
|Schwinn Varsity, 40 pounds of steel|
That bike was heavy as can be, but I rode it all the way from the church parking lot to Lecompton and back, that is when I realized that I really wanted to ride. Before that ride I kind of thought of the bike as basic transportation, something that I would get rid of once I got a motorcycle or car. I never had thought about using it to ride such distances, it was hard, very hard, but it was great! For my twelfth birthday I told my parents that I wanted a 10 speed, as that was as many gears as they came with back then. I went to Clayton's bike shop over on 21st Street as many times as I could to look at bikes and over to Gran Sport on Topeka Boulevard. I bought Bike World and Bicycling magazines, and checked out about every book on cycling in the library.
I got a champagne "gold" Ross for my birthday, and within a month had changed a lot of the parts out on it, although looking back, the bike was too big for me. About that time Jerry's Bike Shop opened and I went in there to buy parts when I could. They were a little more upscale than Clayton's and some cool stuff. One of my trips into Gran Sport, which easily had the coolest selection of bikes in Topeka, I had found some brochures on the United States Cycling Federation and about bicycle racing. I think I wrote to them about racing and found some names of racing clubs. I also called the district representative for Kansas, Mike Hudson, he and his wife Judy both raced. My mother took me over to Mike's house over in Potwin, they had some really cool bikes and stuff and I was hooked. One evening I was in my driveway tinkering with my bike when Adam Gatewood rode up and introduced himself. I guess Mike had told Adam that I was interested in racing and that he should stop by my house sometime. Well it turns out that the VA hospital, which was near my house, was a great place for training, the loop around it was around 1.1 miles or so, a perfect criterium course. Adam had come by to see if I wanted to go for a training ride. I jumped at the chance to ride with some real racers. I dressed in my Dietto Peitro cycling shoes, wool cycling shorts and a shirt that I had been using for a jersey and when for a ride. I remember that Fritz Menninger and Kris Tilford were on that ride as well and we were doing sprints just about every lap. That is the first time I heard the sound of a silk tubular tire makes when sprinting, boy was that the coolest thing. I am not sure if Adam had his Colnago yet, but I remember he had a much nicer bike than I had, but it really didn't matter, I was riding!