In 1997 a friend of mine told me about a bike ride in southern Indiana, the Hilly Hundred Weekend, that her husband had done the previous year. She knew I rode my bike and thought I would enjoy it. She told me there were some hills but I really didn’t think much of it. I decided to train for the ride by doing one long ride a week or so before the ride. I maybe rode about 25-30 miles. I thought I was prepared. Heck, I was a former student-athlete, was in good shape and was in my mid 20s.
The bike I rode was a 1983 Schwinn World Sport. I am 6’6” and it is a twenty five inch frame (they measured in inches back then). I just converted to centimeters and it’s 63.5. Wow! My two bikes since then have been a 61 cm LeMond and a 62 cm Trek. The Schwinn weighs about 25 pounds. I’m serious. That thing is a beast!
Even though I had ridden my bike for years (as a kid in my neighborhood, to class in college, out in the country maybe 15 miles a pop), I was not yet a “cyclist” with proper gear. It was a bitterly cold day and my apparel consisted of running tights, cross training shoes (rat traps on my pedals), a bandana tied around my head to keep it and my ears warm, a cotton t-shirt and sweatshirt, and a windbreaker that blew me up like the Pillsbury Doughboy.
The first day of the Hilly I walked that monster Schwinn up every major hill. My friend’s husband (bless his heart) waited for me at the top of each one. Chris is the guy who doesn’t train for anything, yet can do anything – the mini, the Hilly, whatever. After the first day, I was freezing and exhausted. We both drove back home to Indianapolis.
The next morning we drove back to Bloomington to do it all over again. Despite the freezing cold and aching muscles, I was determined to ride both days. I walked up every major hill yet again. And Chris waited for me patiently.
The next year I decided to actually train. I also thought about buying a new bike, but put that off awhile when I found out how much bikes cost in the 90s compared to the 80s. I think my parents paid $250 for my Schwinn. That summer I rode everywhere and even trained around Brown County. A friend was bitten by the cycling bug and she, too, decided to ride it, along with my brother (on his mountain bike).
Hilly weekend finally arrived! I was excited and terrified at the same time. I am proud to say I rode up every single hill on both days. No granny gear. Shifters on the stem. Still wore tennis shoes and had rat traps, but I did splurge on bike shorts. The weather was way better. My brother, older than me by four years, called me a stud. It was a great weekend.
I will never get rid of my Schwinn. I am a keeper of things by nature anyway, but I would rather part with my LeMond and even my new carbon Trek than my trusty Schwinn. Today it is my commuter bike, complete with a kitty litter pannier. I now have a quick-release front tire, but travel with two wrenches since the bike shop couldn’t convert my back tire to quick release. I also added SPD pedals.
On mornings when I ride to work I always feel like I’m 15 and on my way to school or tennis lessons. Then I arrive at my office and reality kicks in. But for those 35 minutes, I’m in heaven on my trusty Schwinn.
Name: Linda Godby
Bicycle: Schwinn World Sport
Linda: You are not alone, every “serious” (and not so-serious) bicyclist will always have a soft spot for their first bicycle. Thanks from everyone at Bicycle Garage Indy for sharing Your Bicycle picture and story.