don’t know exactly when my love affair with the bicycle began, but
surprisingly it didn’t end when I left most of my front teeth and several
layers of skin from my face and hands embedded in the asphalt on
Oakdale Hill.  For my 10th birthday, my grandmother had given me a shiny
new red Stingray bicycle, and of course I couldn’t wait to go tearing off on
my new ride. The only minor problem was that the bicycle shop neglected
to tighten the crucial bolt that held the handlebars in the upright position.
Much to the
dismay of my
parents, years of
reconstructive and
dental surgeries
did little to quench
my thirst for
two-wheeled
adventures. As for
the remainder of
my adolescence, I
survived with only
minor abrasions
and haematomas.
         When most of my high school
classmates were cruising around in
Pontiac Belvederes or Chevy
Impalas, my preferred mode of
transportation was a classic, black,
English made Raleigh 3-speed.
During the summer months I would
start my day by pedaling off to
summer school, then to my job
washing cars at Milroy Chevrolet.
Then, after dinner I would make the
three mile trek downtown to meet
up with friends at Melino’s Bar &
Grill.
         On one such night after excessive
consumption of various libations, I hopped
on my trusty steel steed and headed
home. For some unknown reason it
occurred to me that if I placed my feet on
either side of the front wheel, I wouldn’t
need the brakes to slow down. I don’t
remember how many somersaults the
bike and I made, but when I finally landed
in the middle of the road, a passing car
missed crushing my head by inches. Right
then and there I swore I would never, ever
again use my feet for brakes.
         After finally graduating from high school I was able to
continue to use the bicycle as my primary form of transportation,
thanks in part to a series of menial, low paying jobs. This meant I
arrived at work most mornings smelling like the south end of a
north bound goat, but nobody seemed to notice or care.
Eventually, I saved enough money to buy a new bicycle, and on
the advice of my friend Rob, bought an American made Trek. I
picked up my new bicycle on an August afternoon and promptly
rode over to Rob’s. I carefully balanced the cobalt blue
mechanical masterpiece against the side of his car and walked
into his house. The only problem was his wife Cindy, who was
walking out the side door, jumped into the car and not noticing
my bike, backed over it.
         When I later moved to
Florida I happily discovered that I
could ride my bicycle year-round.
In fact, I rode a bicycle to my first
job interview at the Shiny Sheet,
arriving a bit disheveled. Kim
Sargent, then head of the
photography department, later
told publisher Agnes Ash, “I
never saw anyone wearing
clothes so wrinkled, but maybe
we should hire him anyway.” He
neglected to mention the ripe
body odor.
         Several years ago, I fulfilled a dream by embarking on a two-week self-contained
bicycle tour of France’s Loire Valley. On the internet I found Claude Blanchard, a former pilot
who now rents Peugeot bicycles from his barn outside the city of Angers. Outfitted with hybrid
style bicycles, panniers for carrying clothing and supplies, and what looked like a lifetime
supply of Michelin maps, my son and I pedaled off on a 300 mile adventure. There would be
days when less than a half-dozen cars would pass us on picturesque country lanes. One
afternoon a car pulled alongside us and the driver leaned out and inquired, “Americans?” I
nodded my head and then heard (in French) what I assumed didn’t mean, “You must stop at
the auberge in the next village and try the foie gras.” How I knew this, was by the one-fingered
salute that followed him steering his car into our path. I tried not to take this random act of
French hospitality too personally. When I mentioned this incident to our host, Claude, he
apologized, and then asked me, “Weren’t several tourists killed in Miami when they took a
wrong turn out of the airport?”
         Today I continue to risk my life riding my titanium Litespeed Blue Ridge,
vintage lugged-steel Bianchi or restored Colnago Super along Route AIA .
Recently a late model Ford F-150 pickup with a “In Memory of Dale Earnhardt”
decal on the rear window pulled along side me, and the driver yelled out, “Get the
%@#& off the road and onto the sidewalk!” Now for the record let me state I’m
one who believes the word, sidewalk, should be taken literally. For the benefit of
this above-mentioned courteous citizen and others who may not know this, the
sidewalk is for people who are walking. Bicycles in the State of Florida have the
same rights as motor vehicles, and are expected to share the roadways, not the
sidewalks. If you don’t like this, don’t blame the bicyclists. Blame the residents
who insist on fighting the addition of bike lanes. As for myself, I’m no Lance
Armstrong. I often recall the parting words of my friend Claude back in France. “It’
s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
        
 C’
est
La
Vie.
         *This story originally appeared in The Palm Beach Daily News   copyright Michael
Price 20
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I came across this magazine advertisement dating from the early 70's on Ebay and purchased it for $6.00-
I then asked my neighbors, Jack & Barbara Nicklaus, to autograph it for me.
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