Saturday, September 22, 2007

Part IV: A Daisy in the Dark Ages

Before all the hooting and hollering begins, allow me the grace to be the first to admit that there were a few dark years in those days between riding the blue Stingray Deluxe and my next bike. I was scraping the bottom...

1974 Ladies Schwinn Collegiate 5 speed

By seventh grade, my face was pocked with zits and I horrendous B.O. As a result, the girls quickly stopped talking to me. In fact, if not for my smell, I completely vanished in front of them. My friend John (ponch) and I quit playing CHiPs for Dungeons and Dragons. My self esteem tanked and I stopped caring about things. I was a L O S E R.

The blue Stingray deluxe started losing its appeal as my friends got new BMX bikes like Mongoose, Torkers and Redlines with sweet mag wheels. Others got new multi-geared bikes: my older brother Matt's Schwinn World Sport and brother John's (Murphini) limited edition Bicentennial Varsity. However, I was in limbo, left riding a single speed cruiser in a changing world.

So if the Stingray had a flat, or if I just wanted to go somewhere faster, I opted for the only multi-geared bike available to me at the time: Mom's ladies Collegiate 5 speed. Daisy-yellow with full chrome fenders, upright handlebars, a five speed stem shifter and a spring-loaded seat, this bike was built for comfort. Oh yeah, it also had a baby seat mounted on the rear rack. Thanks for sharing your ride, Mom!

In fairness to Schwinn and my Mom, the ladies Collegiate offered an extremely durable ride that absorbed most road hazards. It took obstacles like curbs, small flights of stairs and medium sized retaining walls surprisingly well. And although it was a pig (not unlike Fred's LeMond) it could cook down hills. Oh, and could that thing ghost ride! With it's hefty cold steel handlebars and that solid frame, all it took was a gentle nudge to get it going and it would coast riderless without the slightest trouble. If challenged in a ghost riding duel, forget about it. You could bet the bank that the Collegiate would crush the competition, especially when the handlebars locked up.

Mom's Collegiate unfortunately bore the brunt of my many pent up frustrations from those transitions years. Sorry, Mom: I owe you an amends. Not to justify it, but the Collegiate handled the punishment exceedingly well.

Schwinn captured some magic in those days before the 1980s. I can attest that the Collegiate had style and function and was just as much a joy to ride for an adolescent boy with self esteem issues as it was for the women to which it was marketed.

So there it is: a dorky, spoiled kid with zits & BO riding mom's daisy-yellow ladies collegiate during his dark years of transition.

Tomorrow: Traveling down the road on a new Schwinn 12 speed.


  1. Wow...had I been paying more attention, I may have noticed some serious issues Brady was starting to exhibit. I know he can instantly count toothpicks on the floor when you drop a box, recite Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First*" routine, and kept a blue notebook of all the things people did mean to him in 1982...but ghost riding your own bike?

    For those of you aren't familiar with "ghost riding", it was something you did to other kid's bikes, not your own... A quick shove down the hill whilst they looked onlike like this...

    On second thought, maybe Brady was fiendishly smarter than first glance--because he did it with his mom's bike, not his own.

    Well done Brady, and remember, K-Mart sucks.

    *Shouldn't it be "On first is whom.."

  2. Smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, feigning stupidity -- who me?

    Uh oh, gotta go... fifteen minutes to Judge Wapner!