The summer of my 6th year of life my cousin taught me to ride. I was visiting for the summer from Iceland where my dad was stationed working for the US government. All I wanted for Christmas in 1972 was a bike. Really bad. All they had in my size at the local Post Exchange (where all the military/government employees spent their American dollars), was this funky Schwinn Sting Ray copy that was meant for girls. I mean, it was fuchia in color and had a bright white banana seat with colorful daisy flowers all over it. (Eye rolls) It had theses cool steel swoopy twin top tubes, a ridiculously stiff twist-shifter paired to a 3-speed internal hub, and mixed diameter wheels. But, it was mine, because I just had to have a bike that year. We moved onto West Germany after Iceland where, luckily, they didn't harass me about my bike. Dad had taken some electrical tape and covered-up those girly flowers so the kids wouldn't tease me. (Good dad.)
It was a rocky start but, my desire to ride was strong. FFWD to now: I've made a living, working in bike shops for decades. I've toured the world on a $50 frame, road raced in the high mountains, raced cross-country mountain bikes with Johnny Tomac and Ned Overend, turned 50 and entered 19 cyclocross races to celebrate. It's never been about the bike for me. It about my need for independence, the feeling of freedom I get with the wind in my hair as I pedal myself over the Earth, powered by burritos, to destinations unknown. It's about the spirit of competition and the motivation I feel to get out the door and train, every year, for the past 30+ years.