My first memories of riding were on a green tricycle when I was two or three years old. Next, I was riding a 20” J C Penny bike when the training wheels came off at about age 5. Before long, my mother was giving me a quarter to ride to a local grocery in our Indiana small town to pick up a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread (I had a basket on the front, so this was as easy as it was fun).
In my later grade school years, my brother and I went everywhere by bike. We also did the equivalent of mountain biking over construction-related dirt piles on our fatter-tire 26” Sears bikes. I broke an axle doing that, so I think that qualifies as serious MTB-ing (for kids).
My first “bicycle advocacy” decision was made when summer-working for the owner of a picture frame shop in Richmond, IN. I bartered for his red Columbia 10-speed (which he had lost interest in after graduating from college and entering the working world) in exchange for two week’s wages (about $235). I wanted to ride to work rather than relying on getting access to the family car, and this was the perfect solution. That bike went with me to prep school in Massachusetts, and it was my source of escape and exploration for two years in the foothills of the Berkshires.
For most of my early adult life, bicycling was forgotten. Then, I moved to Arizona. In the process of recovery from a five-year illness and life-saving surgery, I rediscovered the bike. A neighbor, Winston Benson, was a quite serious and accomplished cyclist. And, a friend at work, Kerr Spencer, sold me a Trek mountain bike to help fund his purchase of a road Kestrel. It all came together and the bike bug bit…big time.
I began to ride a new Trek 1200 on the road for distance and time, very slow and short at first. But, the challenge of metric centuries and the newly discovered El Tour de Tucson were magnetic. Somehow, in the space of two years, I lowered my El Tour 75 mile time from 6:30 to 4:59.
Then, Winston died in a cycling accident in Scottsdale. My friend, cycling hero (Senior Olympics National Silver Medalist) and mentor was gone. I didn’t sleep for a week. That is when my bicycling advocacy passion began.
In subsequent years I helped put on the “Memorial Ride for Safety” for the CAzB. Rich Rumer and Bill Lazenby were mentors and friends. It was a given that we would work together on this ride each year. One year, we also had a “summit meeting” between Rich, myself (a PMBC officer at the time) and the president of ABC, and agreed that clubs would put on rides and help fund the CAzB out of our proceeds. The CAzB would be the advocacy organization and the clubs would focus on rides and channeling some money their way.
I eventually joined the board of the CAzB and was later encouraged to run for president. I have simply taken on this role out of a sense of duty to Winston and other cyclists who have been injured or killed. Also, I do it because of a desire to make Arizona a safer place for all bicyclists. Jean Gorman, Richard DeBernardis, Rich Rumer, Bill Lazenby, Reed Kempton, Matt Zoll, Mike Sanders, Sterling Baer, Daniel Paduchowski, Randy Victory and many others have been my inspiration. I am far from being the complete bicycling expert, but I have read, studied and ridden since the late 1980’s (with only one PBAA platinum medal and no USCF wins, so I never really excelled on the bike), and I serve the cycling community with no agenda other than to make Arizona a better, safer and more fun place to ride. If things go as planned, I will turn over CAzB leadership to an inspired and more capable leader by early 2013. We have some significant programs to accomplish in 2012, and then the torch should be passed. That’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it…