Different people love different things about cycling in Wisconsin. Some of us love the exercise we get riding to work. Others love the freedom to turn down any attractive town road that strikes our fancy on a Sunday ride. Still others some get a thrill out of throwing themselves into a sprint finish in a race.
Whatever you love about cycling in Wisconsin, we would love for you to share your story in the comment section below. Feel free to get creative or just give us the basics. Of course everyone wants to hear the sordid bits, but remember this is a family website, not the Penthouse letters section. Try to keep it PG-13 at least.
Here are some topic ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- What bike in your stable do you love most?
- How did you first fell in love with cycling?
- What is your favorite place to ride a bike in Wisconsin?
- Why do you love your bike?
- Did a bike have anything to do with you falling in love with someone?
- What was your favorite date involving a bike?
- Anyone actually get married on a bike, include a bike ride in your wedding or honeymoon?
You can keep it short and sweet, or wax poetic. Want to write a Baiku (bicycle haiku) for a favorite ride? Feeling more traditional like you have a bike love sonnet in you? Put your keyboard to work! We have time for long stories or short stories, fact or fiction, as long as they express your bicycle love in any of its many forms.
To get you going, I am going to share the first crush on a bike that I ever had. My story, like me, is (mostly) true, and a bit long winded. Yours can be much shorter and completely factual if your prefer.
Making love last
A long time ago in a land called “The Twin Cities,” I worked as a lowly light monkey for the Minnesota Daily, the U of M student newspaper. Charged with making photographs at the Art Director’s request, I and my fellow dark room rummies would hang out around the assignment desk whenever we were not in class, or whenever we were broke (whichever came first).
Spending that much time hanging around the Art Directors, I picked up some habits good and bad. Bicycling was the good habit. The Art Director was way into cycling, but not just any cycling, he was into lugged steel frames. As an the gate keeper of good design and artistic standards, it was only fitting that he liked Bridgestone bicycles, because they were J. Peterman Company of bicycle industry. Their catalogs remain collectable pieces of hand drawn art and prose.
If you ask anyone who knows about Bridgestone, they will tell you the Molteni Orange 1993 XO-1 was the pinnacle of their line. The XO-1 was different from any other bike made at the time. It was so different, that people either fell in love with it, as I did, or hated it. It billed as an “all-rounder,” a bike as capable of competing in of Paris Brest Paris, as it is lugging loaded packs on a cross-country tour, or racing down mountain single track. It was a 26 inch wheeled lugged steel bike with road bike geometry, but room for mountain bike tires. It had rack mounts everywhere and funky “mustache” handlebars.
When I first saw the Bidgestone XO-1 in the Art Director’s catalog, I was smitten. In my mind, the XO-1 was my ticket to adventure on two wheels. I fantasized about racing WORS races on it (Gene Oberprillar actually won the 1993 Fat Tire 40 on an XO-1 with a time of 2:16:27). I dreamed of riding it hut to hut in the San Juan Mountains. And of course, it would carry me back and forth to work each day in high style.
It took me a while, but I eventually scored a used 52cm ’93 XO from a guy in the Bay area. In order to make my adventure bike travel more easily, I had Waterford Precision Cycles install S&S couplers on the frame. People warn about obsessing over objects, but that XO-1 delivered on the dream. I raced it. I toured with it. I commuted on it.
And then my garage caved in…
Seriously, our old 1920s house had a Model A era garage with a flat poured concrete roof. One day, I was working in my home office (I was still a self-employed light monkey), when I heard a terrible crash. It sounded like a crane dropped a load of rocks outside my house. I ran outside and saw, to my horror, that the roof on our garage had collapsed, crushing my cherished XO-1 and a couple other bikes we had hanging in it. I was devastated.
Then I called my insurance company, and I got mad. They wanted to give me $45 dollars for the bike! Always a fighter, I took up the challenge, and in the end, since Bridgestone was no more, they agreed to buy me a new Rivendell Bicycles Atlantis, the penultimate child of the XO-1 and Grant Peterson. Peterson was the former Bridgestone employee who dreamed up the iconic orange ride, and he started Rivendell Bicycles after Bridgestone USA closed.
In the end, for peculiar reasons only people who know Grant Peterson would understand, he choose not to sell me a bike. With that door closed, my insurance company claims officer (anxious to have me out of his life), agreed to pay for a custom-built copy of the XO. For that I immediately called the good Sir Richard at Waterford Precision Cycles, who by coincidence, was building Rivendells for Grant at the time. Richard was only too happy to help me, and I now have a Waterford built version of the XO-1, complete with a Rivendell fork crown.
It remains my favorite bike, and the one I would keep if I had to get rid of all the others. I eventually sold the crushed XO to Troy Courtney, a former custom frame builder in St. Charles, IL. Due to the magic properties of lugged steel bicycles and Troy’s talent with a torch, he was able to resort the 1993 bike and some other lucky soul is riding it today. The insurance company was more worried about liability than money, or perhaps I should have fought to have my bike repaired, but they were worried about liability.
No matter what, I am happy, and I think I learned a lesson. Sometimes, if you get it right and work to keep it, love lasts. My wife Liz, who I still think is as cute as the first day I saw her when she jogged onto my porch to visit my college roommate 30 years ago, will probably agree.
So what is your bicycle love story? It need not be as long as mine, but we are dying for you to dish in the comments below.