Sunday, February 24, 2013

1973: Cycling Distance Record and Notes

My first "10-Speed" ride notes.
It is a small brown record book, 5” x 8” and hard bound. The white, blue lined pages are still crisp, though slightly yellowed, and a few of the pages are stained, probably from the day a box of books and photo albums was caught in the rain during my move from home to my first apartment.

At the top of the first lined page I had printed the heading “Cycling Distance Record & Notes”. Below that were the specs of my first road bike, listing all the components, and some comments from the dealer I had bought it from. Then I have a list of accessories, some new, some from my old 3-speed. All this was written on or around January 27, 1973, the day I brought the bike home from the a bike shop in Ann Arbor.

On the following page, I drew in a gear chart for the 3 chainrings (52-47-36) and the 5-cog Atom freewheel (14-16-18-21-24), giving me a range from 100 to 40.5. Looking back, I know that middle 47 was my main ring, and what taught me to spin all day. And I am glad I had that 36 inner chain ring for that 24 tooth large cog.

At the top of the seventh page, I printed another heading, “Date Distance & Comments.” and below that I had written the following:

“1) 1/30/73 4.4 miles farm and back 2nd time on a ten speed type bike. Rides nice, but I am way out of shape. Adj Fr Derailleur. way outa shape.”

It is the first ride entry, a mix of cursive and print in ball point pen. The numeral “1” and parenthesis is before the date. The Farm is my grandmother’s farm and where my Dad had his work shop, just 2 miles from our home on Wampler’s Lake Road, then (and still) a lightly traveled state road in a rural south east Michigan.

A winter ride with Kevin (L) and Mike (C) in 1973.
“2)2/3/73 cyc 4.4 miles, 22.0 miles. Rode to work at Alfhors, and then around town, from Snider’s to Riepma’s and then LaRue’s. Kevin and Mike joined me. Tires low on the way in handled like a sick cow. Still in poor shape.”  

My second ride was a “commute” to work, but we didn’t call it that. Then I joined some high school friends, Kevin and Mike, for riding around, in a winter jacket, jeans and tennis shoes on a cold February day. We stopped at another friends house, who snapped a black and white picture of us. And on my second ride, with 22 miles, I was concerned I was “still” out of shape.

“3)2/4/73 cyc(lometer) 26.4 dist 28.0 Miles in 2 rides - ... Wind and Horning Ride almost killed me, but I made it non-stop.”

I rode twice on the 4th, but counted it has one ride, riding from home to Brooklyn and around, coming back the long way over some rolling hills, the biggest not more than a 100 feet in elevation change. It was always a fun road to rider rather than the shorter and flatter route on Wampler’s Lake Road.

I was recording the starting miles of each ride from a cyclometer. A cyclometer mounted on the front axle, with a peg attached to a spoke, aligned to hit a star-shaped counter wheel on the cyclometer on every wheel revolution. The cyclometer would “count” wheel revolutions to determine the distance traveled. However, the peg would frequently twist around the spoke and need to be re-aligned to hit the counter wheel. Each time the peg hit the counter wheel, there was a metallic “ping”; that’s a “ping” every 7 feet, 755 pings to the mile, every mile.

“5) 2/28/73 cyc 56.4 ..4.5 miles aprox, Went to farm to check tires, On way home, chain broke on Hotel Road....”

At the farm was Dad’s air compressor, and at first, that was how I checked my tires, a couple of times a month, whether they needed or not. However, I was already noticing that they needed it more often. The broken chain was another matter, since Dad and I both learned that there was not a master link on a derailleur equipped bike. It took me a week to get to a bike shop to buy my first chain tool. I was pretty critical of myself for not learning that first, and picking up a tool and spare links, since I couldn’t find them in Brooklyn. And maybe that is why I have ridden almost every mile since with a chain tool in my tool bag.

“3/21/73 First 10 Trips Notes
Total distance 113.5
Shortest trip 3.3 miles
Longest trip 21.4 miles
Avg trip 11.35

Even then, I was a stats nut. I am not sure why I needed hundredths of a mile accuracy, but that just one of those things. And I did pretty good those first few weeks, recording every ride through late winter and spring.

“27)4/29/73 329.0 to 368.7 non-stop. ... only 3 tenths short of 40 miles. Highest total day riding and single longest ride.”

This first long ride was a big loop almost , 10 miles west and east of home, wandering the back roads between Cement City and Manchester. I was riding with a single water bottle, without any riding clothing, energy food, and no helmet. And I was then hitting distances that were significant for even a car trip,

“40)6/2/73 511.5 to 591.5. 80 miles in the ACS Bikeathon. Was trying for 100, and would’ve made it, but I got a late start.”

My Parliament, a  15-Speed "10-Speed"
The American Cancer Society (ACS) in held a Bikathon in nearby Jackson, and I canvassed my paper route customers to get pledges. By the time Mom dropped me off mid-morning, everyone riding 100 miles had already finished their first 20 mile loop, so I was at 80 miles when the all the rest of the 100 miles riders finished their fifth loop. But on just 40 rides and 500 miles of training, I almost make my first century. (That first century century would come a year later on the same ride.)

I wrote almost two pages on the that first bikeathon, but that was the last detailed entry for almost a month. Despite my good start, I was not a good journal keeper. From that point on, and I would only make entries ever couple of weeks. And every new entry started with my berating myself for not keeping up, followed by a page or two of stories and comments on specific rides and distances traveled.

I continued record keeping in that pattern for almost 2 years, through the last day of my first DALMAC tour in the fall of 1974. There are notes from my first century, my first double century, and getting my next bike. I have have drawing of my first set of panniers and first packing list for touring.

I filled about half the book that way, but then put it on the shelf. From that point on, I used note books and annual log pages from Bicycling Magazine or the League of American Wheelmen for logging miles. But there is only place where I can find my ride number one.

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