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The man behind the stand

How Cycling Shaped Me

My journey from just a kid who enjoys riding bikes, the dream of a retirement job helping others fix their bikes, to actually starting as a bike mechanic in the garage.

It has been a long journey to get to where I am today. In fact the story doesn’t start with me, but rather with my parents. Growing up, I had heard stories of their past life as avid cyclist. I can recall my dad’s bike hanging in the garage and thinking what stories that bike can tell.

My Dad

My dad was my biggest inspiration to get into cycling. I remember a story of how this one guy drafted most of the way on a long ride, then when approaching the finish the guy sprinted ahead, gloating how he won. First off, nobody likes drafters. And secondly, it was just a club ride. There aren’t any trophies being awarded.

Both Mom and Dad were in the San Antonio Wheelmen. He was the clubs 4th President, serving from 1975-1976. During his tenure he lobbied with the San Antonio City Council to have bike lanes added along the Mission Trail (from the Alamo to Mission San Jose).

From these series of photos that I’m reminded of the love for cycling my dad had. The joy of the bike can be seen here and helped give me the love for the sport.

P.S. I still have the large handlebar bag in the first photo and the presidents gift hangs in my garage. Dad still has the bike in the top middle photo. Hoping that some day it will be mine.

My Mom

When I think about Mom, cycling isn’t the first thing I think of but definitely was a part of her life, seemingly just as much as Dad’s. Mom’s first century ride turned out to be more than that. About 20 miles more, due to a wrong turn (“I knew I should have turned left in Albuquerque!”).

Mom also took a que from her mother, as she made the cycling kits and warmups that she and Dad wore.

Further to the story above about the Mission Trail bike lanes, when the city approved the project my parents were there to celebrate the grand opening. As they were preparing for the ride, the media was talking with them and taking a lot of photos. My Mom was so thrilled that she would be in the local paper. So she waited for the story to be printed and rushed to get a copy as a keep sake. Sure enough there was a story about the project and the photo speaks for itself.

Mom was so thrilled to be in the paper, but all they got was part of her butt! Cute kid though.

And here is where I come in

Seems from an early age I was on a bike in some way or another. As you already know I was in the newspaper. Well, turns out it wasn’t once but twice. This time Mom & Dad made it in as well.

I like how the article mentions McAllister park. I spent a lot of time there as a kid. Riding bikes and playing soccer.

Sooner or later I needed a bike of my own. Santa caught wind of this and brought me a Schwinn. Check out that banana seat.

Chris Glass and I were friends since day care. He lived down the street from us and we were in separable. We even looked a lot alike back in the day. So much so that my Dad accidentally took him home from day care instead of me. He said “Chris get in the car” and so he did. Didn’t take too long before he realized the mistake.

Chris and I both learned to ride without training wheels on the same day. My Dad helped take off the training wheels of Chris’s bike. He was eager to try it and took to it like fish to water. I was hesitant and scared. I did finally work up the courage to give it a go. So I stood at the top of the drive, knees shaking and climbed aboard. Dad was keeping the bike steady until I was ready. After a few false starts it was finally time to just do it. I stared down the drive way and told Dad to let go. He did and the bike started rolling. I thought hey this isn’t so bad. I reached the bottom of the driveway and then things took a turn for the worse. This part is a little fuzzy, but what I can remember is that the end of a handlebar ended up striking my forehead. I rushed past Dad and into the bathroom to check the damage. Sure enough I had split my forehead open. So it was off to the hospital where I received some staples and big head bandage. This setback didn’t deter me from riding and soon I was on my way again.

Miss those golden locks of hair

My next bike was a Team Murray BMX bike.

Check out that number plate and knee high socks

Unfortunately that bike was stolen shortly after I got it. Guess some other kid needed more than I did. I loved that bike so much so I asked my parents get me another one. This time it was red.

It was this bike that I started to figure out how to be a mechanic. Here is me and my Dad doing a quick tune-up. And another me and Jamie Flynt getting ready for the 4th of July parade in the neighborhood. Looks like we had to change out the rear tire because of too many skids.

My next bike was Kuwahara BMX bike that had a totally chromoly frame and things started to get serious at this point.

Remember those hard plastic seats?

I would ride this bike all over the place. It was steady companion with whom I made a lot of fond memories with. Back in day, I would spend the entire day out on the bike with my friends. The kind of days where you would tell Mom and Dad “I’m going out” and then not show up until dark.

It was with this bike that I learned how to patch a tube. Trick is to let the glue setup before trying to put the patch on. It is hard to wait that long. Seems a shame that I sold it to a kid down the street. I see these bikes going for several thousand dollars these days.

Not too far down the line I got my first road bike. It was a Schwinn Open Road from Montgomery Wards.

Look how happy I was

This bike would come in handy as I was entered in the Bike-A-Rama (B-A-R) in just a few days time. The B-A-R was a fund raising event for the Scouts where people pledged money for every mile you completed. The first B-A-R I rode my new road bike in was at McAllister park. I remember the day well as I ended up laying over on its side about 10 miles in. Installing new handlebar tape and how to realign the brake hoods were the lesson I learned from this adventure.

For the next couple of years, Dad would take me riding on a 6-mile loop. It was pretty short, but it was a steady climb out of the neighborhood for about 2.5 miles. Then there was this big hill that would have us racing to the bottom to see who could get there first. It was pretty flat after this until we got back to the neighborhood. The entrance on far side of the neighborhood had a wickedly steep hill, but after this it was all down hill back to the house.

Putting my mechanic skills to test prior to the ride.

A couple of years later I entered the Bike-A-Rama again. This time I road my Dad’s bike. I noticed a problem with the brakes before the ride so had to perform a little magic to get things right. In the end, I road 80 miles that day. Guess you don’t really need brakes, you just gotta keep pedaling.

A couple of years later on my 14th birthday I got my first real mountain bike. It was a Specialized Hard Rock. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of that bad boy. One fond memory of that bike was when I taco’d the front fork.

You see there was a kid at school that was a local BMX legend. His name was Marty Christman. He had built a BMX track to train on behind one of the schools nearby the house. Turns out his nickname in the racing scene was “Shovelhead” for the amount time he spent digging and building trails. I gave Marty’s track a go and was doing pretty good. Then I hit one of the big jumps. I went vertical and when I came down the landing was smooth. No jolts, just a nice soft landing. It was then that I realized that my front fork was bent straight forward. I had to ride home 5 miles like that. Lesson learned from this incident was how to install a new fork. BTW, here is a link to an article about Marty. Seems he is still out there riding and building trails.

I lost track of cycling while away for college. Not long after graduating I took up mountain biking again. I would ride local trails like Jack Brooks Park, Memorial Park or even adventure out to Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, Tx.

My old Specialized Hard Rock with its replacement fork wouldn’t keep up so it was time to upgrade. It was the year 2000 and I hadn’t yet started making the big bucks, so a Specialized Rock Hopper is all that I could afford. This work horse was a trusty steed of mine for over 20 years. I sold it not long ago to a kid that lives down the road. It might be gone but will never be forgotten.

2000 Specialized Rock Hopper Z1 Pro

Not long after buying the Rock Hopper, I started to get the itch for road cycling again. At this point I had my Dad’s bike, but since the bike was about as old as I was, I figured I needed something more current and with more gearing options. So I went out and bought a 2001 Specialized Allez Comp.

Man the places we went together

After about a year of just messing around on some short rides I decided to try the MS150. I joined my company’s team (Schlumberger) and started to train.

At time the Houston based MS150 was a 2-day ride from Houston to Austin, where the finish line was the Texas Capital building. There were a couple of starting points in Houston, but they both ended at the La Grange fairgrounds for an over night stay. The next morning you needed to chose the long or the short route (aka the hard or easier route). I chose the longer route for the challenge and because route went through Bastrop State Park, a place near and dear to my heart.

I would go on to ride the MS150 4 more times. For the last 3 years I was the training coordinator for my company team (Fugro). I would organize training rides each weekend from January to April, with increasing length and difficulty. I had this great photo of one of the rides taken at Washington on the Brazos. We had like 50 riders in that photo, but unfortunately I lost it along the way. Here is a representation of what that photo looked like.

Those are some great mustaches!

In 2006 I decided to give the Cheaha Challenge a go. This is called the toughest ride in the South and it was. It is a 102 mile out and back ride over the highest peak in Alabama. There was 7,500 feet of climbing. The Cheaha mountain took about 45 mins to climb. Nothing in Texas prepares you for this type of effort. I finished the ride in 7:57:14 (officially).

What is kind of cool about the Cheaha Challenge is that the night before the ride, the city of Anniston, AL hosted the last professional circuit race for the year. I got to see JJ Haedo (sprinter supreme) race. Several of the professional riders stayed the next day and rode the Cheaha Challenge as well. Gordon McCauley (5x road race champion and 3x time trial champion of New Zealand) finished the ride first with a time of 4:41:12. Seems I have some room for improvement.

In 2010 while I was working for a Dutch company I was lucky enough to see the prologue of the 97th Tour de France. The prologue was held in Rotterdam that year and was won by Fabian Cancellara (one of the best time trialist ever). It was pretty cool seeing the riders milling about getting ready for the short time trial and to see some of their bikes. Bjarne Riis even gave me his autograph. Here are a few photos from that outing (photos courteous of Chris Mellor).

The Kiddos

In 2004 my first son was born – Tyler. At that time I really liked a professional bike racer named Tyler. While the wife doesn’t agree that is where the name comes from, it is why I brought it up in the first place. Tyler is an Eagle Scout and will be off to Texas A&M this year. He will play in the band and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his accomplishments.

In 2006 my second son was born – Michael. His name has no connection to cycling, but a cool name none-the-less. Michael is like mini-me, but with more muscles. Michael plays soccer for a club and is on the HS team. He is also plays in the band.

No story about me would be complete without mentioning my wife – Amy. She supported me through the years and took care of the kids when I was out riding. I remember back to one of our first dates. I thought it would be cool to take her on a bike ride to a park just outside the neighborhood. To get to the park you needed cross a 4 lane divided road. As we got to the middle of the road, her front wheel contacted my rear wheel and she went down. I felt so bad. Here it was to be a nice day out and she ended up with road rash and some holes in her jeans and sweater.

Amy is my chief marketing manager. She has done a wonderful job of keeping me busy. Don’t know if it is because she likes supporting me or just trying to get me out of the house.

The love of my life

The Mechanic

I’ve always had a dream to be a bike mechanic after retiring from the corporate world. What better way to spend your day than turning a few wrenches and helping other people get their bike back into riding shape. It isn’t about the money, but it is nice to have a few spending bucks along the way. The main pleasure is meeting new people, hopefully putting a smile on their face when they get their bike back and the satisfaction of a job done.

It all came about when COVID hit the US in 2020. I noticed when I went to the bike store that they didn’t have any new bikes on the shelf. Rather they had a store full of bikes that needed repairs. This was a sign that there are bikes (a lot it seems) out there needing to be worked on.

I knew my way around a bike and have helped out a few friends a long the way, but there is so much more to know and learn about to be a proper bike mechanic. I needed to increase my knowledge of the craft and build up my workshop. So set about studying, learning and applying what I learned to the various bikes that would come in. I started with the easy stuff and stayed away from the more technical work. Overtime some customers would take a chance with me to do something more advanced. This is where anything you study really doesn’t fully make sense until you do it yourself. I’ve made mistakes over the years, but have learned along the way and am still learning everyday. At this point there isn’t much that I haven’t done in working on bikes.

I still get out and ride, just not as much as I used to. Here are some more recent photos of me in action.

Overall I pride myself on honesty, quality work at a reasonable price, communicating often (even when the news isn’t so good) and a timely turnaround. I hope that if you have brought me your bike in the past that you had a good experience. If not, I’d love to hear from you.