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Bikes I've Owned - Part One

Posted by Dutchman Monday, September 21, 2009

Part of what makes bicycling fun for the more serious rider, are the machines themselves. Tinkering with and upgrading the equipment is almost as much fun as the ride itself. Following is a history of the bicycles I've owned, from 1966 through 1975.

Mutt - My first bike was an "unknown" as far as make and model. I received it when I was 10 years old. My sister's had those balloon tired monstrosities that usually came from Sears. I sometimes rode theirs, but did not have one of my own until I was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes disease part way through 5th grade. The disease affects the femoral head of your leg, resulting in it's softening. I had to have my right leg placed in a sling, and used crutches for about 18 months, as putting weight on that leg was extremely painful, and would cause damage to the bone when it re-hardened. The only two things I could do, was swim (nearly weightless) and bike ride, as the pressure is on your knee rather than hip. I needed to do this, in order to avoid atrophy of my leg muscles. My family didn't have a lot of money, so my parents purchased a used 26" bicycle the found in a newspaper ad. It had been repainted multiple times, had no markings, and was a single speed. It was heavy and ugly, but for those 18 months, I rode it almost every day, usually to the library, which was about a 5 mile round trip. I used two pieces of rope to tie my crutches to the top tube. I spent a lot of time explaining to people, why I could ride, but couldn't walk.

Huffy Three Speed - In 1969, my best friend and neighbor, moved with his family out of state. When they had their truck all loaded up, they discovered his Huffy three speed bicycle wouldn't fit. Mike gave me the bike. It had 27" wheels and was very fast compared to my old junker. With it's 3 speed internal hub, it was a huge technology upgrade, something my parents would never have been able to afford. A few months later, I stripped down the gold colored frame and repainted it a bright orange. Two years later, a friend cut in front of me on a turn, and his rear axle took out about 1/3 of the spokes in the front wheel. From above, the wheel looked like a figure 8. There was no way to come up with money for a new wheel, so I learned right then how to rebuild and true a wheel. I always wondered how that internal hub worked, but fortunately, didn't have the tools needed to take it apart, or I'd probable have never been able to ride the bike again.

Sears 10-Speed Free Spirit (Austrian Puch) - In 1974, my senior year of high school, a friend told me he was working at Sears building bicycles. He stated he could get me their top of the line 10 speed for $75 on his discount (I think it was priced at $150). I jumped. It was the first new bicycle I ever owned. Later I found out that he was building the bikes and sneaking them out the back door for friends. He'd pocket the $75. Sears got nothing. He was fired, but I had the bicycle. The frame was a cheap Puch from Austria and the parts were mostly from various eastern European countries. It worked well however, and with it's aluminum wheels was much lighter than the Huffy. With derailleurs, there was also much more with which to tinker. A standard day the following summer, was to ride it 7 miles to meet my friend, the 6 miles over the biggest hill in the area to get a drink from the well at the state park, then back. There wasn't much else to do. The bicycle served me well throughout my high school years. Once, I rode it 12 miles across the city to an aquarium shop. There I purchased a 10 gallon glass tank, and carried it back while riding through traffic with one hand.

In 1975, with a job and marriage, my bicycling days were pretty much at an end.





1 Responses to Bikes I've Owned - Part One

  1. I like the blue seat, rack and reflector. A bike of the times.

     

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I'm a middle aged divorced father living with my two sons. We like to canoe, bicycle, fish, camp, play baseball, and spend money when we want and where we want, without permission from anybody. HA!

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