Table of Contents:
- Bike by age and anecdotes from around the world
- The “Shelly” Years
- The Birth of “Sami”
- Sami vs Shelly
- The Future
We are so busy. We are so busy thinking about what we’re going to do in the next 5 minutes, the next hour, that we barely have time to think about tomorrow or next week. (At least according to my mother. Anyone who knows me knows that my entire life is planned). The world continues to speed up and everything is getting faster and faster. This experience has begun to consume us and doesn’t allow us or afford us the time to think about yesterday, last week, last year. In fact, we now must rely on Facebook to provide memories for us. [But my FB memories only go back to 2005 when I joined FB as a Northeastern University student, across the Charles River from where it was developed, Harvard, more than 10 years ago!]. We’ve come to where we are without actually knowing how we got here. There are 7.1 billion people on Earth, all experiencing multiple journeys through the one common journey of all, life. And while I can’t say that my life’s journeys are no more or less spectacular then you, one in particular could be found in common with many.
I’m talking about the bicycle. I’m talking about the newest member of our family, Sami. She’s a $12,000USD/$15,000AUD superbike and my newest pride and joy. This blog entry could be one chapter in my auto-biography so here’s me taking a crack at it. I hope you enjoy learning about my cycling history and my public unveiling of Sami over this 3 part series. Hopefully you will find it spark insight into your own historical journeys, thereby allowing you to truly appreciate, where you’ve come from and where you are now.
- BIKE BY AGE AND ANECDOETS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
0-5yrs old (New Jersey, USA): Born into the family of a landscaper and a housewife, I didn’t inherit world-class skills. My only claim to fame is that my great-great-grandfather Chapui?, a Frenchman, was the authority in Paterson, NJ on the silk industry, during the industrial revolution. Had he not lost it all in the great crash of 1929, we’d be rich. Instead, I was born into an average middle-class suburban household in Northern NJ with a 3 year old sister and a brother that came 2 years later. I remember a red tricycle but that was it.
However, there were BIG WHEELS! As till this day, my sister holding my brother while I’m alone, on my “big wheels”.
5yrs-8yrs old (Still New Jersey): Dad recalled that Bill Corper, a long time family friend who gave my dad his first real job landscaping on a golf course, brought up an old time Schwinn from the jersey shore. I remember it being blue with a giant banana seat. I can remember the day. We lived on a cul-de-sac at the bottom of a small hill. I got on the oversized bike, my dad held the back, I pedaled and took off. He let go and I was cycling. He claims that I never had trainers so maybe this natural sense of balance was just something I always had. (I have been a skier since 2yrs old, and a roller-blader since 6yrs old). A couple of years later, Santa Claus delivered my first ever bicycle. It was made by the US Company Huffy and it was a mountain bike (it didn’t have Rock Shox). I rode it in the house that Christmas day since it was a white Christmas. (For my Aussie friends, that means snow, not sunscreen lotion). I rode that bike to Theunis Day Elementry school during the school year, 1mile/1.6km down the road, past the lake where I learned how to swim in the summer. I had that bike from 1990 (I was born in ’84) until 1997(ish) when it was stolen outside my dad’s apartment.
During this time I was friends with a school class mate Chris Capricio. He had a new road bike and I tested it out. The thing flew. It was like night and day compared with my heavy huffy. It would be 20 years before I would again find myself find myself on a “roadie”.
13yrs-Current (New Jersey): I remember an episode of Home Improvement where Tim Allen’s character, Tim, had the chance to buy back his first ever car. It was cemented into my mind then to never let go of your first car and I translated that to the bicycle. The 1995 GT Timberline (an American brand owned by Canadian company Dorel) had an incredible blue and yellow paint job. I admired it when I scanned the shop room floor of the local bike shop just a minute walk down the road. I loved the paint job and I wanted it! The cost may have been between $350-$550 and I knew I needed to do slave labor all summer long with my dad landscaping in order to pay for it. But, upon my father picking me up from Boy Scout camp, I learned of a surprise. I got home and there it was! My first, personally bought bike. Dad told me the shop was going out of business (it’s now a paint shop) and that the owner took off $200 in order for him to come get it early. Even at this young age I was all about getting a deal!
So yes, I still have this bicycle. It’s at my father’s house which I expect to pick up at Christmas 2017 when my wife and I visit for Christmas in a campervan, from Tucson, AZ. Remember, I have our lives planned!
I rode this bike all over the hills of Wayne. But one journey I remember was riding to Silas Condict Park in Kinnelon, NJ. This 21mile/34km ride took me out along the major highway Rt 23. I recall stopping at our favorite Ice Cream parlor, Curly’s in-route. I just chose a destination with the goal of getting there (and back of course). These weren’t the years of cell phones. The picture above is my brother and me camping with my Dad in the summer of 1998, 14 yrs old.
I most likely won’t fit on that bike when she returns, but at least I still have it! Photo below taken May 2016.
18yrs – 22yrs (Boston): Unfortunately, I’m unsure of the years of my next bike. I remember buying a Schwinn (which again is a USA brand owned by Canadian company Dorel) from a dive of a bike shop near Harvard Stadium. It was a great hybrid with disc brakes and I fell in love with their stopping power. With that bike, I continued to make journeys around Boston and all without a helmet. I only started using a helmet religiously when I became a triathlete in 2010. The picture below is of me on a bridge crossing the Charles River in Watertown, MA. This was fall, October 2006. I was about 215 pounds then, heavy into my “bulking up” days. Shortly after this picture, or in early 2007 my favorite bike thus far was stolen while attending class at Northeastern University. I can remember it specifically being a Friday at 8:30 in the morning on a day that was slightly drizzling wondering what loser steels a bike then?
21yrs old (Scotland, UK): From June 2005-December 2005, I lived in Inverness, Scotland working at Lifescan Scotland for Johnson & Johnson. While I was there I bought a bike, a giant piece of shit that did the job. But it was a real piece of shit and its name “Destroyer” lived up to it because I definitely destroyed the shit out of this bike. Besides riding to/from work around 5km each way every day, the one journey I remember on this piece of crap was to a vineyard of course. The destination was Moniack Castle Wineries 9miles or 15km away. I got a flat that trek and finally ended up in a bike shop for the fix. I had bought one of the wineries Plum Wines and remember drinking it a few years later in Boston. But this was Scotland and even though this is where I first really started learning/trying different wines, it was Scotch that I learned about the first night in Inverness!
22yrs – 27yrs (Boston): I’m not 100% sure when I bought my next bike and where I bought it from either. I believe I bought it from Landry’s bicycles on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University. I was looking all over the place and had even tried going on a real “road bike” at Back Bay Bicycles but I felt uncomfortable on the light dinky frame and it was close to $800-$1000 which I really didn’t want to spend or have the money for as a Uni student. I was too busy spending that money traveling. In fact, at several points over the years I was interested in cycling, getting a road bike, and joining the NU cycling team. But, with Uni costing $30K/year, there was no way my father was going to give me $1K for a bicycle. So I opted for this next “Commuter Bike”. It was a Gary Fisher, an American company owned by Trek. There was no triathlon club at this time at NU.
She did the job, even getting me to Bentley University while attending my Masters of Science in Finance. I remember one particular night when I couldn’t drive my truck. It would have been December 2007 thinking how lucky I was to have that bike even though I was cycling on a half inch of snow in the dead of winter. I walked into class covered in a dusting of snowflakes. There weren’t too many journeys with this one except for the occasional trek into downtown Boston to my favorite spot, overlooking the harbor where scenes of The Departed were filmed, and the monster below. After moving to Alice Springs, Australia in January 2011 the bike was sold later that year for $250 on craigslist.
I started my training log in September 2009 and according to it, I logged 936 miles, 1,500km on this bike.
The biggest ride of my life (and potentially still till this point) was done on this ride. At an estimated 165 miles/265km I attempted cycling from Hudson, MA to Wayne, NJ. I failed in Danbury, CT by not having the correct fitting tubes. The epic ride brought me to near hypothermia but an incredible journey with 17 pages of mapquest print outs and multiple times getting lost. But I had an idea of what I wanted to do and I set out to do it. So on August 28th, 2009, I cycled this journey taking me just over 16 hours. If I only knew what a road bike was then….
So Far (Boston to Australia): Up till this point (2010), I had mountain bikes, hybrids, and commuter bikes. But I never took that leap up to the road bike. Enter my friend Trevor who was an ultramarathoner/ironman wanabie who was the driving force into my current life as an endurance athlete. By June 2010, I knew I too wanted to be a triathlete so I went to Belmont Wheelworks. This is one of the top bike shops in the country where many pro’s come to get their bikes serviced. I remember looking at the Specialized Tarmac Pro 2011 and wondering why this bike was $5,000 while the others were $1K, $2K, and up. I learned then, it was all about the “components”; lighter, faster, better. I settled with the best and received a $1K savings buying my first ever road bike, shoes, pedals, and bike fit for around $4,000. I was 26 years old with a Master’s degree working for Raytheon with the goal of becoming a triathlete; I could afford this!
With the “Red Rider” I covered 8,085 miles or 13,000km between 2010-2016. She sits on the rack with both tires flat since riding a road bike isn’t going to give me the practice I need for Ironman.
But the Red Rider really opened my world and quickly lined up epic adventures. I bought her June 2010. On only my second ride I went 80miles/129km from Belmont into and around Boston. On my 5th ride I brought her down to my family in NJ and cycled 94.6miles or 152km to the highest point in NJ where I got a major blowout (on the tire) and hitched a ride (1st and only time) to a bike shop. I rode to work, and with a bike group out of a bike shop, but on my 17th ride on a road bike I completed my first ever triathlon, the Lowell Mill City Triathlon. I held 22.4mph or 36kph. 6 rides later (now #23 on a road bike, I covered 122.4miles or 197km through the mountains of New Hampshire, past the tallest mount in New England, Mount Washington. A PB in an Olympic (my 2nd triathlon) a month later was followed by the Mount Washington Hill Climb, back in New Hampshire, which is known as the “World’s Toughest Hill Climb”. I managed to get in to this exclusive event by pleading my way in the day of the event. It still remains as one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. “The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Newton’s Revenge are known as the toughest hillclimbs in the world at 7.6 miles (12.2km) in length, has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and the last 50 yards is an amazing 22%!”. You’re not allowed to ride down and trucks must take multiple stops to cool off their brakes!
The picture below is from my first ever triathlon. The Lowell Mill City. I raced with The Hoyts on this day!
Two rides later I was competing in my first ever half-ironman, the Half Vermont Journey. I took 2nd in my a/g in 4:48 and went 2:40 for the bike. I remember a guy on a TT passing me saying I really need to buy aero bars or a TT!
On my 50th ride on my “Roadie”, I competed in my 2nd 70.3 in 3 weeks in Syracuse, NY. I only went 5:00:11 missing the 5 hour mark due to a flat on the Red Rider.
She’d continue to be my backbone in times of need and supported me through the early days of my triathlon career in Alice Springs, Australia including the Masters Games, Cycling road races, etc. She’s a great bike but to bring my triathlon career to the next level, I needed a Time Trial (TT) Triathlon bike.