Montage of Photographs

Born in January of 1964, a month after JFK was killed. I rode my first two-wheeler on campus at Michigan State University where I lived with my parents and family in married student housing. That first bike had plastic tires. The succession of bikes went something like this:

  1. 1968 gold-colored department store bike (plastic tires, training wheels at first)
  2. 1969 Schwinn Hollywood (maybe, all I know for sure is that it was a blue Schwinn) girl's 20-inch wheeled bike
  3. 1970 Huffy Dragster (yellow, banana seat, knobby rear tire. Destroyed by paper route.)
  4. 1973 Schwinn Varsity (turd brown metallic) drop-bar ten-speed
  5. 1973 Huffy girls 3-speed grownup bike (destroyed by paper route)
  6. 1974 Torpado (1974-ish) Italian drop-bar ten-speed, campy stuff, aluminum rims
  7. 1987 late 70's or early 80's Motobecane touring bike
  8. 1988 Jamis Dakota
  9. 1990 Cannondale road bike
  10. 1992 Specialized StumpJumper Comp
  11. 1996 Rocky Mountain Blizzard
  12. early 90s Mongoose mountain bike set up as commuter
  13. 1997 Bontrager Race
  14. 1998 Bianchi steel Reparto Corse Cyclocross bike
  15. 1999 Moots YBB
  16. 2003 '02 Fisher Supercal29 (bigwheel or 700c mountain bike)
  17. 2004 Curtlo 24 Hour (bigwheel or 700c mountain bike)
  18. 1965 Schwinn Varsity ten-speed town bike rust relic (free)
  19. 2004 early 90's Battaglin World Champion
  20. 2004 Electra Classic Cruiser (3-speed aluminum townie)
  21. 2005 Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike
  22. 2007 Gary Fisher Caliber full-suspension 29er mountain bike
  23. 2007 Specialized Roubaix Compact Expert Rival
  24. Hoopty old Trek 8000 converted to Single Speed w/ milk crate
  25. 2007 Lenzsport Leviathan 4.0 full-suspension bigwheel mountain bike
  26. 2007 VooDoo Dambala (29) singlespeed
  27. mid-90s purple StumpJumper 1x8 w/ milk crate*
  28. 2008 VooDoo Canzo29 full-suspension bigwheel mountain bike
  29. 2009 Hunter Cycles custom steel adventure touring bike*
  30. 2010 Specialized StumpJumper29 FSR
  31. 2011 Tomac Diplomat 29*
  32. 2011 Kona Unit 29*
  33. 2013 Giant Anthem X29.1
  34. 2014 Kona Wo Fat Bike*
  35. 2015 Yeti ASRc*
  36. 2017 Trek Domane SL 6 Disc*

* [still own this bike]


My earliest cycling memories were about things that little kids do like crashing, rolling out into traffic, and taking jumps. Then I had a 7-day-a-week afternoon paper route for several years in West Michigan where I grew up, where it snows. Having that job made cycling an important life skill. I learned about practical cycling, using a bike as a work vehicle, delivering newspapers in all weathers, every damned day.

During that same time when I was in 5th or 6th grade, my dad and his best friend started to do some day touring on 10-speed bicycles. My dad got an orange Velosolex touring bike. His buddy got a strawberry red Schwinn Continental. One sister got a Fuji (Wow! It cost $220! Expensive!!), and another got a Browning. I got a secondhand Schwinn Varsity, because I was still growning. It was the first bike I ever had that I did not like. I really really really wanted to get a 24" wheeled CCM road bike. My dad held me off. I was growing. He knew a 24" bike would seem like a crazy idea almost immediately. In 1974 I finished my first Century Ride, the innaugural Muskegon Seaway Century. I was 10 years old. I did it on that damned boat-anchor Schwinn.

Then I grew a little, and earned some paper route money. I went to Muskegon, MI to a bike shop that sold Italian bikes called Torpados. It was a grimy little hole-in-the-wall shop called Alfred E. Bikes. The Torpado came with Campagnolo components! As I recall, it cost $128 and change with tax and everything. Yellow. I loved that bike!

Then came the gap. High School, a driver's license, partying, and water skiing. Very little cycling. The Torpado was a 21". I still rode it once in a while, but I was 6' tall by the time I was 14, so it was way too small. It was the bike I had until 1986 when I abandoned it in Laramie, WY because I didn't have room to bring it with me when I left there. The bike was a wreck by then anyway. It probably hadn't seen a drop of oil since the Carter Administration by the time I junked it. I left it in the stairwell of my apartment in Laramie.

The resurgance in cycling for me came when I was living in Grand Junction, CO after having walked away from college in Laramie. I was about 23 years old, in medium to crappy condition. I was interested in skiing, but also poor. Skiing has always and will always demand cash flows. Cycling isn't free, but for a shrewd rider and equipment consumer it can be pretty inexpensive. I got back on the bike in '87, riding a second-hand Motobecane touring bike. But then I redisovered dirt in '88. I traded my road bike that year for a brand-new Jamis Dakota 18 speed rigid steel mountain bike.

That Jamis was pretty special. I was 24 years old, and it was only the 3rd brand-new bike I'd ever acquired. It cost almost $600. Seems like nothing now, but I carried a balance on my credit card for several months to pay for that back then.

Mountain biking has brought me lots of joy since then.


©Tom Purvis, 2007-2012