I’ve been an avid bicyclist for most of my life. My love of bikes started at an early age. When I was 10 years old I received a 3-speed Raleigh English Racer for Christmas. My brother Jim got the same.
These bikes had thin wheels and tires making for less friction on the road thus more speed. Jim and I would burn around the neighborhood seeing who was fastest. Of course he always won being older and more physically developed.
One problem with the bikes was that they’d unexpectedly pop out of gear. That was no problem if you were sitting and pedaling, but standing on the pedals and going for it was a different situation.
Jim and I were blasting down the road one day in a show of speed. My brother was standing and pumping the pedals for all its worth when the chain came off. He immediately went down hard on the center bar.
I can still visualize him on the bike with both feet dragging ground, slowly drifting to a halt. At that point he fell over. The look of pain on his face was none I’ve ever witnessed since. My brother remained black and blue in that area for weeks. I don’t recall him ever standing and pedaling again.
My first combination road/trail bicycle was an Azuki 10-speed made in Japan. A fellow working at The Bicycle Shop in Anchorage, Alaska recommended it for my type of riding. He told me the bike would hold up well to rough Alaskan roads and terrain.
I purchased the Azuki in 1971 for $300.00 and the thing’s been ticking ever since. If I were to guess overall mileage I couldn’t. The number would be up there. What I like most about this bike is it’s name. I use my Southern laced Japanese accent whenever pronouncing it.
I rode this bicycle for basic transportation whenever my car was being repaired which was often. The bike served me in that capacity including camping trips and weekend jaunts along Turnagain Arm. The thin tires were eventually upgraded to thicker ones to survive rock punctures. This all took place before mountain bikes came along.
I’d come home from work, grab a quick bite to eat, and then pedal around Anchorage averaging 30 miles or so per trip. My route always took me through Russian Jack Springs Park which was basically a mile from our house.
On May 2, 1982, I was getting ready to ride when my five year old son Gunnar asked me to stay home and play. That request turned out to be a life saver.
At the precise time I would’ve hit the park, a mentally disturbed man, Charles Meach, shot four teenage campers to death along the bike trail. One boy tried running away with Meach hot on his heels. After shooting the kid in back of the head Meach quickly left the scene.
There’s no doubt I would have been in the thick of this massacre. Thankfully Charles Meach was caught a few days later. Had God not spoken through my son that evening I most likely wouldn’t be here.
My reliable Azuki racked up mega miles, yet a 1994 Delta V-1000 Cannondale became my favorite bicycle to ride. Made of aluminum; the chassis welds are tig and near perfect. The frame geometry is a work of art!
The Delta V-1000 has adjustable front forks and a solid rear suspension. It carried me all over Alaska including the top of a Nike missile site several times. The Cannondale’s considered old and archaic compared to newer full suspension mountain bikes, yet none will ever touch it in the looks department.
I was riding the Cannondale, when a Toyota pickup with a Russian professor behind the wheel struck me. It was July 3rd and pre-holiday traffic was extremely heavy. Attempting to cross a major intersection when the light turned green, the truck nailed me doing 40mph. That’s what the police report said. I was the one getting a ticket.
My prized bike suffered minor damage while I took the brunt of the collision. The professor’s truck suffered even worse. My hip and shoulder took out his side window and mirror plus dented the driver’s side door. It took several months to recoup from all injuries. My right leg still aches on occasion.
A Trek Y-5 full-suspension bicycle was added to my stable after this accident. It worked fine off-road but the Trek’s weight was a bit too much for long trips. Because of that I hardly use it. I keep it around mainly because parting with my stuff is hard to do.
My last and most likely final bicycle to purchase is an UGMO 18-speed fat tire special. It takes extra pedaling to keep the thing rolling because four-inch wide tires make for lots of friction. I like the bike because it’s extremely stable on uneven ground. UGMO works fine in sand and I suppose snow as well, although I have no plans of riding it in cold locales.
Years ago my wife began calling me “Mountain Bike Mike”. I found it amusing. The name was cool enough to use on my eBay account. I abbreviated the title to ‘mtbikemike’ for simplicity sake. Oftentimes people think the letters stand for Montana Bike Mike. I never correct them. That name sounds cool as well.
For several years I sold stuff on eBay like antique bottles and old car magazines. I had labels printed to make the shipping easier. The stick-on labels have my name and address along with a clever saying,
“Peddling is my middle name!”
There’s a silhouette of a guy on a mountain bike in the center of each. Because I no longer sell on eBay that often, Joleen and I I sometimes use the labels in sending Christmas or birthday packages to family and friends. It never fails that a recipient will erroneously claim I misspelled pedaling. I let them believe such, knowing that trying to explain things would take forever.
I should be doing more peddling and pedaling. There’s plenty of junk around the house that needs sold, including a few extra pounds on me that need whittled away. With 2,000 of those labels in a desk drawer, I can peddle until the cows come home and then some
I’ll always be a bicycle fanatic even when that time comes that I can’t ride. Having a bike sitting in my garage or living room will help rekindle special memories. I believe memories will be most welcome in the later days.
Most likely the bicycle I keep for memory sake will be my tried and true Japanese Azuki. If it could talk I’m sure it’d tell me,
That’s Japanese for,
“Thanks for the memories!