Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Passing on...

My Dad gave me my first bike when I was around 5 or 6.  It was a training bike with big fat plastic wheels.  I rode it a lot and one day it broke in half as I rode it out of my friend's driveway.  Since I was balancing good at that point I got a cool bike with solid tires that had flames painted on it.  My friend and I pretended it left a flame trail behind it and put cards in the spokes to make motorcycle noises.  Then one day,  I was careless and left it in the driveway behind the family car.

My next bike was an interesting no name brand with a bananna seat on it which became almost un sittable after I put a bumper sticker on it that made the seat slippery.  I can't remember what the whole draw of bananna seats was.  Maybe it was that you could ride double?

My next bike that I remember was one my Dad said he'd meet me halfway on since I needed one for my paper route.  We trucked on down to Cosmic Cyclery just south of downtown Flagstaff (this was in the old days of the late 70's) and I had the choice of a redline frame,  which wouldn't have done me a whole lot of good or a nice complete Rampar.  Rampar is one of the earlier Japanese or Taiwanese brands.  Apparently it was part of Raleigh after they got sold to Huffy.  It was a BMX bike with a chromoly frame and alloy wheels (which I trashed, still at the stage of learning to take care of equipment).

After this a friend sold me his old cruiser type bike (which he said jumped better than my current bike humorously enough,  I was pretty stupid then)  for $20 and my Dad shifted my BMX bike to my brother who left it out on the front porch one day to be stolen.  I moved up to a Murray Mtn bike after that which I managed to freeze the bottom bracket on after a lot of riding and newspaper deliveries..

Sometime while I was in Junior high I spied an old ten speed that had been scooped up with the snow removal equipment and dumped on the lot where they put snow to melt.  I ended up turning it into the police department at the request of my Dad.  They told me that it would be mine if no one claimed it and then they stuffed it into a storeroom somewhere and forgot about it.  Well, a year and a half later someone was cleaning the room and low and behold,  here is this bike they forgot to give back to this kid when no one claimed it.  It was poorly painted black with green paint showing through, and I don't know what brand it was but it was a good ride and it was my first real education in working on bikes.

Once I got my drivers license I didn't ride much anymore.  Hiked yes,  rode no.  It wasn't until I got back from Japan with a determination to own a "real"  bike of quality that I would start riding again.  My Dad (are you seeing a connection here?) took me down to SingleTrack bicycles in Flagstaff to buy a previous years model of a Fila Taos Mtn bike which just happened to be my size according to the salesman who was trying to unload old stock.  He also told me it had a sealed bottom bracket.  He was wrong on both counts but I rode the stuffing out of that bike and only recently have moved on to another mountain bike with front suspension.

I rode that bike to the tops of the Peaks (well at least to the inner basin) and on nearly every dirt road or trail within 10 miles of the Flagstaff area.  I rode it through the desert to the woodbury trailhead and the trails around Lost Dutchman state park and most notable on my failed attempt at the Dirty Mogollon Madness permanent in it's former form.  It was a faithful steed despite times of neglect after I bought a motorcycle or married and moved to the valley.  There are many good times put in on that frame over the years.

I bring all of these bikes up as my Dad was related to them all in some way.  He used to ride his bike to work all the time and sometimes would take me on his kid seat on the back.  Amazingly enough he was able to make it up Cherry hill with me on the back.  He rode an old Raleigh 5 speed.   Many is the time I rummaged his bicycle box for tools or parts to fix bicycles or to marvel at his prehistoric frame pump with the hose that pulled out of the handle and screwed on to the bottom.  I never rode with him much on long rides or anything but family jaunts around the neighborhood or to the Junior High pond and back yet he influenced my cycling in a pretty big way.

The reason I have not posted in the last few weeks is that he died on the 27th of July of a coronary failure.  It's been tough losing him.  He often would ask me about my Saturday rides and where I had gone.  Occasionally he would share concern about me riding alone in certain wild areas where there was no help available, but mostly he was pretty supportive.  He stopped riding his bike to work in the 80's and not too long after put on weight which he would carry with him until recently when he was starting to pull it back down.   I haven't ridden for 2 weeks while I have been tangled up with all the details that ensue when a loved one passes away.  

It's about time to start riding again.  I think though,  and I was thinking a bit on these lines before he died too, that it's about time to spend more time riding with my kids and perhaps cut out a few long rides here and there and work on getting my kids in better shape and also get them into a few events like the Tour de Phoenix and Tucson (the 30 mile coarses at first of course).  In the long run it will lead to more cycling (maybe with my own private paceline even),  and in the short run it will lay a great foundation and relationship with those I love most.  Here's to you Dad.

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