They don’t make youngsters bikes like they used to. Logan Spiegel, 7, front, and his brother Alex, 9, had the chance to demo recumbent bicycles during the Lifestyle Expo preceding the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Lincoln Avenue on Friday.

Photo by Tom Ross

They don’t make youngsters bikes like they used to. Logan Spiegel, 7, front, and his brother Alex, 9, had the chance to demo recumbent bicycles during the Lifestyle Expo preceding the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Lincoln Avenue on Friday.

Tom Ross: You never forget your 1st bike


Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or

Find more columns by Tom here.

— Most of us would never dream of racing our bicycles 500 miles over some of the highest passes in Colorado. But all of us can remember the first bike that really meant something to us as if it were a first love.

Mark Andersen, of Steamboat Springs, broke up with his first bike — literally.

“It was a bright blue Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat,” Andersen said. “I went over a jump, and it broke in half. Then I got mad and slammed the front half onto the ground and the fender cut my knee so badly I had to have stitches.”

Mingling with the crowd during the Lifestyle Expo before the finish of Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Friday afternoon, everyone I ran into recalled their first lasting bicycle relationship with fondness.

Keith Somen used his bicycle to get around Brooklyn, and I’m not referring to the Steamboat neighborhood of the same name on the south side of the Yampa River. I’m talking about Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I was 13, and it was a white Peugeot,” Somen said. “That was my car. I had it for five years.”

Barbara Holmes clearly can recall riding the mint green Schwinn she received for a combined Christmas and birthday gift when she turned 8.

“It had green and white streamers on the handlebar grips and a bell that went ‘ching, ching, ching.’ It had a basket on the front and my mother put a plastic flower on the basket, which I didn’t really like, but I let her do it anyway.”

Holmes grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes, and her parents were perfectly comfortable with her roaming the streets on her little bike.

“Palos Verdes is a beach town and I rode my bike to the beach,” she said.

Steamboat expat Sid Lewis, a longtime hair stylist here, recalls receiving a red-and-cream colored Schwinn Hornet when he was 10. It took a long time, but Lewis became a serious bicycle racer in the 1980s after a move to Austin, Texas. It was there that a first-year pro racer named Lance Armstrong became a regular client in his shop.

Anita Handing received a little red one-speed cruiser bike when she was 6 and learned to ride without training wheels.

“My first accident on that bike was running into a telephone pole,” Handing said. “That’s really embedded in my memory.”

Andy Rackstein recalls the English 10-speed he rode all over Long Island, N.Y., when he was about 10.

“You had to pause your pedaling in order to shift gears,” he said.

Deb Werner grew up on the outskirts of Golden on the way to Boulder and rode a brown Schwinn along a dirt road to visit a friend.

“I road that bike halfway around the mountain to visit a girlfriend named Margaret,” Werner said.

Along the way, she always kept an eye out for rattlesnakes.

Like Andersen, the bike Robb Nutt recalls best was a lime green 1965 Stingray with a five-speed gear knob on the top tube.

While he was growing up in Hinsdale, Ill., it was considered a very cool bike.

“It had butterfly handlebars, a sissy bar and a wide slick (tire) on the rear wheel.”

If Nutt still had that bike today, he’d be a rich man — perhaps not in dollars, but in memories.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


rhys jones 5 years, 8 months ago

I never got the bike I wanted as a kid. While the other kids got Schwinn and Huffy, my thrifty parents had me on Penncrest. I always wanted the headlights -- 2, side-by-side -- molded in the top bar, was lucky to get fenders. While others had StingRays, I had to settle for ape handlebars on my 24" cruiser, but at least it had a one-stripe Bendix brake, so I was at least halfway cool.

When the State mandated it the first time, 24 years ago, I finally got the bike of my choosing. After test-riding several others, a Trek 830 felt like I was born on it. Sore Saddle had a special going on, so I tricked it up with Moots fenders, luggage rack, bottle racks (pre-Camelbak), light, horn, and insurance (cable lock). Not the sleek beauty I first fell in love with, but if form is function, this bike is beautiful, even today.

They had two identical bikes, one a pretty gun-metal grey, the other bright red, which I chose. Pee Wee Herman was big at the time, he had a red bike, and he was cool, so I figured if I had a red bike I was cool too. Had I known his hole story, I might have reconsidered. But it's still pretty, every nick has a story, and many have corresponding scars on me. I love that bike; it keeps me healthy, mostly. It helps more than it hurts.


rhys jones 5 years, 8 months ago

English majors, please pardon the dangling modifier in my previous prose. I don't like to leave things dangling.


jk 5 years, 8 months ago

rhys, I was wondering what his "hole" story was? I guess it could work both ways? hahaha


Phoebe Hackman 5 years, 8 months ago

rhys - As long as you don't leave your "essential bits" dangling, we're all good. :-]


rhys jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Phoebe -- My bits are non-essential, I assure you. Therein lies the difference between me and PeeWee, who left his bits dangling in the wrong place, whereas I have never been caught. Well, I wonder what Mom saw that one time. My reputation is intact, or was. I love you guys!!


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