When I was 10 my very first bike was a red Schwinn Tornado. I took that thing everywhere – places my parents would have been pissed off about if they knew. But then I grew up and I guess by the age of 12 the bike became a faded memory. I did have a brief stint about 7 years later with a found bike while attending art school in Boston. It was a piece of no-name junk but it got me to my classes and back to my apartment.
It wasn't until 1973 that a colleague at work told me that her husband was thinking of starting up a bike business and wondered if I would be interested in one of these "new" 10-speed racing bikes.
I figured for $95 why not. It was a rather weighty, white, steel-framed bike made in Austria. I used it occasionally but interest faded as I fell into couch potato mode. So in the garage it hung for 17 years collecting dust and grime.
All it takes is a single moment in time – a twist of fate that can set you on a course you never expected. Around 1990 another colleague from a totally different company I worked for was drumming up volunteers to ride on a team to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The team had to consist of 4 members and their team was in place up until the last moment when the only guy on the team chickened out.
That's when I was approached. It didn't start off too well when asking someone who hadn't been on a bike in 17 years if they would consider joining a team to do a 25-mile bike ride. The team pooled their collected pledges and I agreed to ride.
So hanging in the garage was this ugly brown bike. Two days prior to the event I cleaned off all the grime to reveal a beautiful, white Austrian-built bike. With no helmet or any other essential bicycling equipment I did the ride, which included one massive hill. Fortunately, there were food stops along the way and all kinds of riders giving you all kinds of encouragement.
When I arrived at the finish amongst cheers and applause, I couldn't help notice the cacophony of color splashed all over the hillside of Sherwood Island State Park in the form of bikes and their riders. I thought this was the greatest thing and wondered if people got together and rode in groups all the time. After asking that question, I got sent to a bike shop to get information from a newsletter published by a local bike club – Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club. The rest is history and what I then referred to as bicycle riding turned into the sport of cycling.
It's unique having an accurate timeline of your cycling history. Fortunately I was able to cobble together the history of all my bikes from 1960 to the present time. It wasn't such an easy task when faced with having to find images of the older bikes. Still, with a bit of perseverance anything is possible.
Below is the chronology of my cycling story and all the bikes that have come and gone during the years. Just toggle on each of the show/hide buttons below to reveal a brief history and photo of the bikes I've ridden over the years.
Schwinn Tornado CruiserAlthough it's been many years, it was the occasion of receiving my very first bike that makes it so memorable. I took this red bike everywhere. One of my longer distance adventures was with my friend who led me from North Bridgeport, where we both lived, to downtown Bridgeport's west side – a distance of 41/2 – 5 miles one way. My first big crash happened on this bike coming down my neighbor's steep hill, scraping up my knee pretty bad. In later years the cycling term would be called road rash. A few years later I lost interest in bike riding and the bike faded away somewhere.
Austrian 10-Speed Road RacerAs an adult newly married I thought it would be great to buy one of these new 10-speed bikes offered to me by a guy wanting to get into the bike business. I bought it for $95. The term 10-speed was also used when referring to a racing bike. It had a steel frame and shifters on the down tube. I had the shifters changed to index shifting and they were moved to the handlebars. The bike was also converted to a 12-speed. I added Scott drop-in bars, developed by Gregg LeMond. Unfortunately, when the bike was on the car's bike rack, it got badly damaged between my car and another car.
Quantum Q74S Road BikeOn the day my 12-speed got crushed on the front of my Jeep, I immediately went on a search for a replacement. I was desperate because I needed a bike to do a charity ride for MS the next day. I hit every bike shop in Fairfield County and some in New Haven County, Connecticut. After taking into consideration cost, as well as fit and features, I settled on this bike purchased for $400 in Ski Market of all places. It had 21 speeds and was so much lighter than the old Austrian steel frame road racer. The technology certainly came a long way since 1973.
Cannondale M200 Mountain BikeAfter doing the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) charity ride for a number of years, raising money became an equal part of the actually riding. I had become the team captain and felt obligated to do more in the way of fund raising. Having raised over $2,000 that year, I won this mountain bike. This opened up another new way of riding. The bike did not have any suspension but was rugged enough to take on mild trails.
Cannondale M200LE Mountain BikeHaving the incentive from the year before, I once again raised over $2,000 that year for MS and I won this woman's mountain bike for my wife. Back when I purchased my 10-speed in 1973 I had also purchased a 3-speed Raleigh for my wife. Eventually that bike was sold and she didn't have a bike. Like my mountain bike, this bike did not have any suspension but we put smooth tires on it for road riding.
Cannondale SuperV2000 Full Suspension Mountain BikeOnce I got a taste of what it was like to ride in the woods I decided to see what better alternatives there were to my M200 and I found a perfect opportunity when a new bike shop opened its doors in Trumbull, Connecticut. After developing a relationship with the owner, I offered my services for developing a website for the shop. In lieu of money, I proposed a barter arrangement. I knew how much the website would cost to equal the cost of a new bike. The site's cost also helped in scoring a set of carbon fiber Spinergy wheels. My old mountain bike went to my son.
Cannondale R300 Road Bike & M300LE Mountain BikeIt was really time to step up my game and advance beyond my Quantum Q74S road bike and I found another opportunity when Bicycles, Inc.'s website needed a lot of updating and also needed maps and cue sheets for organized rides that were planned out from the shop. Using the barter arrangement as before, I was not only able to get a new road bike but because this was not an expensive bike, I got a set of carbon fiber Spinergy wheels with it and also an M300LE mountain bike for my daughter.
Cannondale R2000 Si Road BikeWinning was not always my strong suit growing up. Finally that track record ended when attending a bike club dinner and my name was called during a raffle for the big prize. While the bike on display was the apparent prize, I was informed that Cannondale was in the middle of offering the club a better, higher-end bike for an extra $100. I took the better bike. I was also given the opportunity to have an additional chainring added to the front, which I took as well. I swapped out the stock wheels with the Spinergys I had on the R300 and sold that bike to another club member.
Giant TCR Road BikeWhat were the chances of lightening striking twice? Well, 2 years later at the same bike club event my name was called for the grand prize. While the Giant TCR was aesthetically not to bad looking, I felt the Cannondale I won 2 years earlier was a better performing bike and not too shabby looking either. I quickly sold the TCR to another club member.
Trek Equinox TTX 9.0 Time Trial BikeI decided to try my hand at speed efficiency with a whole new set of wheels – literally and fugitively. After doing considerable research into time trial bikes and looking at my savings account, I decided to spring for the Trek. The entire geometry and my position on the bike was a totally new experience. It took close to two hours to be fitted properly, making all kinds of adjustments before leaving the bike shop in Bristol, Connecticut. Then came the custom-built carbon fiber wheels I bought from a wheel builder in Arizona. The lightness and reduced drag of the wheels only added to the aerodynamics of the frame.
Greenzone Commuter Folding BikeIn order to utilize my time in a more efficient manner when traveling to and from the train station and my office, I decided to get a relatively inexpensive folding bike. Rather than having to wait for the office van to pick me up, this bike would get me to the office a good half hour earlier, where I had more gym time. On the reverse trip I could get to the train station much faster than waiting for the van to fill up and maneuver through the traffic. Because of the bike, I was able to get on an earlier express train. This particular bike was not very durable, especially for daily use, it finally broke beyond repair.
Citizens XL Commuter Folding BikeThis was a great replacement for my first commuter bike and built more durably to withstand the daily use I put it through. I opted to keep the fatter tires, which helped with whatever I might encounter on urban roads. I even added a belt of Kevlar between the tires and tubes to avoid flats in areas that would not be good to get a puncture. Adding fenders was a good call seeing as how I was wearing street clothes and any moisture on the roads stays off me. I find ways of riding in pretty cold temperatures too. Getting in the gym and on the express train at night was a great incentive. After retiring I sold the bike.
Cannondale R2000 Si Road Bike RedesignAfter careful consideration and much research, I finally resolved an important issue with my 2002 Cannondale road bike. Having a bike that performs consistently over a long period of time is a hard act to follow when you are looking for a new ride. But when you can't find a justifiable replacement you do the next logical thing if you have the experience, talent and time – you redesign and rebuild. Through a well executed plan my Cannondale R2000 Si got a fresh, new look. And along with upgrading some components, replacing some worn out parts and retiring the original Spinergy wheelset, performance hasn't been better. Eventually I sold this to a worthy cyclist and moved on to a whole different experience.
Felt B14 Aero Road BikeWhile a great deal of thought and time went into redesigning my 15 years old Cannondale, still it was getting old. Even though 85% of the bike was like new, my efficiency in riding could be vastly improved with just the right frame geometry. The stock bike came with a TT setup but the cockpit was removed in favor of aero drop bars. From there I built the bike with customization that makes it an outstanding, proficient machine.
I acquired this full suspension mountain bike through a barter deal with a local bike shop (Bicycle Inc.) in dire need of a website. Up to this point I had been primarily doing road riding and on occasion using my Cannondale M200 mountain bike on the road and on easy rail trails for a change of pace. However, the SuperV2000 plunged me into territory I thought I would never have an opportunity to go. The value of the website certainly matched the shop owners cost for both this bike and a set of rather expensive Spinergy wheels. With full suspension forward and rear making for a more comfortable ride, there's nothing like coming home covered in dirt, mud and a couple of scratches to know you've had a great and challenging time out in the woods.
After years of riding experience both on the road and on the trail it was time to try something different. So I decided to actually buy a bike, something I hadn't done in 17 years since I was winning all those other bikes or bartering. This time I wanted to experience something very different and the TT bike was the answer. After test-driving it for the first time at the shop, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it due to the stiffness, a totally different feel compared to a regular road bike. It didn't take too long to figure it out and adjust accordingly. I also swapped out the stock wheels and I am currently riding on Zipp 404 carbon fiber wheels. I've recently updated the cockpit area and saddle to conform to my forward position on the bike. Suffice it to say, this is a very fast machine.
While riding my previous, redesigned Cannondale, I felt that my performance could be further advanced based on the way I sit on the bike. I found that a more aerodynamic forward and downward position was more comfortable and far more efficient. I was also looking for something that in and of itself was aerodynamic and the Felt B14 fit my needs. Everything about it is aero dynamic via tube shape and hidden-from-the-wind components. I did a lot of customization to the bike starting with the cockpit and cabling and moving on to get just the right special saddle adapted to my forward-sitting position. The bike is fairly light (a little over 9 kg), very fast and I am totally pleased with it and all the work I performed building it.
What started out as a simple question as to whether I knew of any cycling jersey manufacturers and tee-shirt printers, turned into one of the most ambitious challenges I had ever taken on before. In October of 2012 I was asked if I could assist in helping support a cycling team that was just being organized. They were in dire need of my graphic design background.
The group was to be named Team Christie and members needed a cycling kit (matching jerseys and shorts) and other various marketing materials designed for bringing awareness to the cause they were riding for – ALS. As I attended team meetings to discuss logistics with them and to report on where I was on the designed elements, I somehow slowly got recruited into riding as a team member during our luncheon meetings. This ride event took me through 3 states with an official distance of 270-mile/432 km over the span of a weekend.
The biggest challenge doing this ride for the first time in July of 2013 was not the distance but the extreme temperatures we all had to endure. The temperature the first two days exceeded 100°F and the third day didn't offer that much more relief either reaching into the high 90s. Since this was a 270-mile/432 km ride, I decided to round up the milage on the two shorter days by adding 9 and 21 miles respectively so I could end each day with 100 miles (3 century ride).
To accomplish this, I planned out routes to extend the milage. My Day 2 route bypassed a ferry crossing that other rides needed to use to get across the Connecticut River. To add 9 miles to my route I headed up the bank of the Connecticut River and over a few massive climbs, got to a bridge crossing over the river, headed down the other side and rejoined the route before the other riders had a chance to get across. On Day 3 of the Tour, I reached a holding area, which is a required stop and 9 miles from the end. Arriving there about an hour before the other riders, it allowed me to ride an additional 21 miles in New York before returning to the holding area with 92 miles clocked on my meter. The cyclists are gathered together with a police escort to complete the last 9 miles to the finishing line. 2017 marked my 5th year riding the Trek and raising tens of thousands of dollars for ALS.
Along with cyclists and support vans, photographers and videographers were an ever-present force out on the roads. The image above was taken by one of the event's staff photographers who grab this stop-motion shot as I approached a sharp turn heading into a food stop during Day 2 of my second year on the Tour. During that 2014 Tour, Team Christie joined forces with Mac Angels and on Day 2 we swapped cycling kits. We wore their uniforms on that day and they wore ours. On the first and last days of the Tour we wore our own team kits.