Friday, April 21, 2006

Iowa and Bikes

When I first started riding a bike, I lived in the small suburb of Chicago called Carol Stream. We would ride from morning to night without worries of cars or anything else for that matter. This began my obsession with bikes. I would rebuild them, swap out parts, and even have derbies in the driveway. This little neighborhood had a street called Iowa Court which amazingly enough is where I lived. Through this period of my life I rode often with friends and more importantly with my father.

Upon graduating from High School, I headed away from the influences of my friends to Iowa State University. My first roommate was from the town of Mallard, which is a TIv2 pass thru town, and spent many a weekend learning about rural farm life. Spending five years in Ames I frequented Michael’s Cyclery a bit. They built up a great set of wheels for my campus bike and gave me a glimpse into a cycling lifestyle. There was a guy called Scooter on my dorm floor who was a racer and I was always in awe at his dedication to the sport. He would be on the trainer as we headed out to the bars. I have become that dedicate person.

From Ames I moved to Marshalltown, where my wonderful wife is from. She had done Ragbrai five times and I thought she was the coolest. I still do even though she is more of a marathoner now. I ventured back to Michael’s Cyclery to purchase my first bike, a touring Schwinn. From there I added another bike, this time more of a racing one with indexing downtube shifting. The touring bike turned into the around town bike and the other was one I headed out in the fields of Iowa. Having lived in Marshalltown for a year it was time to marry and move on.

This brought us to the great State of Texas! Lived in Houston for awhile and held tight to the Iowa roots I had planted by becoming involved with the alumni association. Here my passion for bike could not be quelled by the looming chemical industry or the mass of cars. I hooked up with West End Cycles and started racing mountain bikes. We traveled all over the state to attend races, from Lajitas to Tyler. I was a great time to race as it was more about the hanging out drinking beer and riding than anything else. During this period we traveled to Austin a lot. One trip was to watch the Tour of Texas. A college roommate came down to watch his brother race in Zilker Park.

Finally, we moved to Austin. I got a job with the electric utility and quickly got caught up in the road racing scene. One of the first rides I showed up on my Borthwick, which was handmade in Marshalltown, and many of the riders asked if I knew Porky. Porky was the son of the frame builder and the black sheep of the family. Some of these guys would head to Iowa for Ragbrai and then to Super Week. Also, I met a few Iowa transplants who came to Austin to race. After a great stint in what I consider my favorite city, it was time to move on.

We ended up in the mountains of Colorado. Here life took a drastic change. No job other than keeping up with one child, who is an Austinite! We added another for good measure and to make sure I was getting enough on the bike strength work hauling them around. One of the new neighbors happens to have grown up in Mallard, Iowa and knows my first college roommate.

Now I head on the longest and probably toughest thing I have ever done, TransIowa. The journey of life takes us on paths that at the time do not seem relative but in ways bring us back to the roots imbedded in our psyche. Life is an adventure and for those who would rather sit life out, I feel sorry for you.

Thanks for reading! I will be disconnected for the next week so please go out and do something enjoyable.

4 comments:

megan said...

what a great story. all the best at the transiowa. i can't wait to hear about it. i've been following along with some other bike bloggers that will be there racing. enjoy! have fun! suffer gracefully! :-)

Paul said...

Awesome write up! I will see you on Friday!

Paddy Humenny said...

have a safe drive East, se ya on Fri

aham23 said...

carol stream aint so small any more! good luck at TI2. Later.