Wednesday, May 17, 2006

North Star to Lone Star trip: 1972

It was 34 years ago that I made my big trip. "North Star to Lone Star" (Minnesota to Texas) That was the “stone-ages” of bicycling for all the youngsters. Actually 1972 was more like the golden age of cycling in the
USA. 1972 was the start of a very big bike boom when they actually sold more bikes in the US, than automobiles!

My brother and I both bought new “10-speed” bikes for our trip in 1972. This was when the only American bike worth having was a Schwinn Paramount but all the great bikes and parts came from Europe. When Eddy Merckx was well on his way to winning the Tour de France five times. Our bikes were French - my brother chose the Peogeot PX-10 and I rode the Gitane, Tour de France. 1972 was also the first year that Campagnolo wasn’t able to keep up supply to meet the US demand and the Japanese suppliers (Shimano and Suntour) stepped in to fill the gaps. My bike was a mix of Campy stuff sprinkled with a few Japanese parts. It had one of the early Suntour GT derailleurs with “plug-shifters.” I had the original Record hubs, with their distinctive oil filler caps in the center and all “clinchers” were 27” and all "sew-ups" were 700c. The 26” tires were only used as balloon tires on those one-speed beach bikes.

We pulled a trailer called a “Bugger” by a company that should have gone out of business for selling a bad design but became a now famous company. Here's what their website says: "Cannondale has come a long way since its birth in a crowded loft above a pickle factory in 1971, when it introduced the cycling industry's first bicycle trailer. "

We had no way to measure distance, besides the mile markers on the side of the highway. There were no digital bike-computers and if you wanted a “speedo” it meant a big analog dial with a mechanical-coaxial cable that spun from your axle, but only “Stingrays” and "Krates" had those!

1 comment:

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