4 Dec 2009

All Roads Lead to a Bike

Posted by mercieb

No, the blog is not dead. It’s not… ok, maybe a little dead. I’ve been doing other things, like tweeting and Facebook. One interesting thing about Facebook is finding folks with whom I have not heard from or seen in 20+ years. My brain has been busy compiling information based on a variety of things and I’ve come to a few conclusions.

Here’s the background: I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA

I’ve noticed about 50% of the folks I went to school with moved from Santa Cruz. A surprising number of them landed in the Northwest (myself included). Now here’s the interesting part… bunches of these folks, both people who stayed in SC and those who left, are into bikes in a big way. Not in the “hey, I like bikes” way but the racing, avid riding/commuting, multiple discipline, bordering on religious fanaticism way. Again, myself included. And it got me thinking… Why? I mean, I know how I got into it but what about the others? Is it some sort of inevitable product of growing up at the time, in the place, and with the people we all grew up with?

One has to admit Santa Cruz was a weird and, I think, a wonderful place in the 70′s and 80′s. It was a much smaller community back then and we all grew up with freedoms kids today know nothing about. I’m told the world is just plain scary now. Until we all got drivers licenses, we used bikes to exercise those freedoms and even after we all started to drive, bikes were the preferred method for getting to the beach in the summer or to school the rest of the year. I remember bikes being more transportation than anything else.

With that said, bikes were definitively a part of everyday and woven into the fabric of my psyche. My best friends Dad wrote the book on bicycle maintenance, his brother was some sort of Junior Olympic phenom and their family had a stable of bikes like you wouldn’t believe. The first bike race I ever witnessed was a ‘cross race up at the university. I believe it was 1982 or something. Santa Cruz happened to have some terrific bike shops, killer riding and a great bike community.

My love affair (in it’s current form) with bikes didn’t really start until I moved to San Francisco in ’94 and I started exploring Mt. Tam on a fully rigid M300 Cannondale. After that, I spent a summer touring the US by bike and logging in some 5400 miles on a 2 1/2 month cross-country trip. In the summer 2000, I did a 5600 mile bike trip from Prudhoe Bay, AK to Laguna Beach, CA. When I turned 30, I decided I wanted to try something new to celebrate the second third of my life and settled on racing mountain bikes. I later went on to working in the bike biz, being apart of owning a bike shop, helping to manage a local team, and being completely immersed in bike community to the point of not really caring if I ever ride a bike again (no, not really).

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. I don’t know if anyone else has gone quite so deep into it, but from what I can tell, there are ex-semi pro racers out there along with folks who have managed to make bikes a major part of their lifestyle. These guys are riding everyday, putting on bike races, lusting after new gear, and living the life. Good on ‘em! Now I’m curios how they got there.

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One Response to “All Roads Lead to a Bike”

  1. Welcome back to Blog Land. Cool bike bio and history. You write really well – easy and fun to read.Mine really started in childhood, I'd ride all over the place, then later jumping around and riding wheelies on cheap Sting Ray copies – converted to cheap BMX bikes.Later, as an alleged adult, a few bike shop years in the early '80s, followed by actual mountain and road bikes in '84. Mixed in was the occasional mountain bike race and observed trials event. The semi-stone age of mountain biking. All this took place in the wilds of a strange land known as New Jersey.Mix some dirt motorcycles in, along with racing motocross and hare scrambles – then later sport street bikes. At times, the obsession with powered wheels cut into the pedal powered obsession – though I still rode mountain bikes fairly often.Fast forward to today. All motorcycles gone, bicycles only. Being family dude, commuting is most of my riding. As is riding and racing with my son – which is super cool.So, counting childhood – maybe 40+ years of two wheeled fun – and I'm still not sick of it. I'm actually more loopy about it now, then I ever was.Bikes make you loopy – in a good way. And the people who are into it, really into it, are some of the coolest people I've ever met.

     

    Dan O

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