Tuesday, February 21, 2012


On Saturday afternoon, February 4th, we found ourselves traveling north on Interstate 45 on our way to Fort Worth. We had the bikes and cycling gear loaded in anticipation of taking part in the massive Super Bowl Sunday bike ride. The ride in which groups of cyclists from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex set out from their respective areas to converge on the West End of downtown Dallas – feast till they’re full – and then ride back to their respective starting points – hopefully having enough time to rest up before partaking in the strenuous activity of watching the Super Bowl and the pre- and post-festivities. Sounds fun, huh?

Not the REAL
Bertha Ashtabula.
Yes, and we were quite excited to be heading up there to be a part of that. Excited to be leaving the rain-drenching that had been going on in Houston the last few days and which was being predicted to carry on throughout the weekend. The rain forecast for the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the Super Sunday: zero.

What avid cyclist wouldn’t be eager to get somewhere dry to ride their bikes?

Not the REAL Bertha
Ashtabula either!
What avid cyclist wouldn’t be happy to finally see clear and sunny skies after making it north of Centerville?

What avid cyclist wouldn’t be thrilled to get free of the Interstate parking lot just north of Corsicana where the freeway expands to three lanes by jumping into that additional left lane and zipping on past all those other motorists who are content with driving right at the posted speed limit or just a hair under?

What Rice, Texas Sheriff wouldn’t be eager and happy and thrilled to see that particular avid cyclist come ripping into his little spot on the face of the earth – at about 11 to 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit?

It’s really cool how they give you tickets now-a-days. They just walk up to your driver-side window; ask for your license and proof of insurance; ask if everything is correct as well as for your phone number and punch all that information in on their little hand held machine. Then you just scribble your signature on the little machine and he goes back to his car where his little printer has already spit out the 32” long ticket that he shows back up with when he returns to your driver-side window. “Have a good day. Take it easy out there.” No smile. No change of expression. No small talk.

It wasn’t until after a couple of days later, when I decided to take the ticket out of my glove box and look at it, I noticed that our down-to-business sheriff possibly had a sense of humor after all. During the whole ticket-issuing process, he had never asked about my place of employment.  I just imagine that upon noticing the shirts we were wearing, he took it upon himself to make a rather amusing, somewhat double-meaning, assumption.


So, how about that Super Bowl Sunday ride? Well, as promised, it didn’t rain. If it had though, it would surely have been ice cubes!

Enjoy the Ride! – Just not too fast (if you’re anywhere near Rice, Texas)

Monday, February 13, 2012


There were people out there in the world that thought the Pet Rock was stupid. There were also people out there in the world that thought Cabbage Patch Kids and Beanie Babies were stupid. There were even a few people out there in the world that thought Giga Pets were stupid – let’s not discuss those people because… well, they were right. But regardless of what some people thought about them, all of those things made millions of dollars. It was obvious; somebody must have liked those things enough to buy them (whether or not they also thought they were stupid).

Okay, now we zip through time to year 2011 and we find… there are people out there who are still coming up with new products that some consider as being, for lack of a better word at this point in time, stupid. An immediate example that comes to mind would be the invention of the ever-popular bicycle handlebar ashtray – and even possibly the follow-up success story, the bicycle handlebar spittoon. As far as I can tell, both of these products flew off the shelves so fast that no-one, not even the manufacturer, has any idea as to how many were produced and/or how many were sold. Some reports even list both of these items as the Number One and/or Two items that were shoplifted during the 2011 Christmas shopping season. I didn’t actually see any of these reports but I’m pretty sure that’s what someone told me that they had heard somebody tell somebody else. So it must be true.

But  A – N – Y – W – A – Y… as we’ve seen in the past all too many times, there are some people out there in this world that… just… don’t… get it. And now, in this day and age of the internet, social network sites, twitter, and mimeograph machines, the fact that they just don’t get it spreads at the speed of light – or maybe faster. Here’s a sampling:

Dear Bertha,
The handlebar ashtray is stupid.
Walter – Humphrey, Idaho

Dear Bertha,
The handlebar ashtray is the absolute worst gift idea that I’ve ever seen you recommend. Seems to me like you should not be supporting the idea of smoking while bike riding. What’s next, oxygen tanks mounted to your bike?

Dear Bertha,
We wrote in complaining about the burn holes in the rear end of the tandem captain when the stoker had trouble getting the cigarette butt into the handlebar ashtray. We then thought that the handlebar spittoon was the answer to our nicotine dilemma. It turns out that my stoker is no better of an aim with her spitting that she was with her cigarette butts. Sure, my cycling shorts are no longer full of holes but, by the end of our ride, my backside is usually covered with… well, never mind. It’s just gross. The handlebar spittoon was a stupid idea.

Once again, we here at More On Cycling make every attempt to be in tune with what our readers are saying to us. It's pretty danged obvious that what we are hearing is, “We want our nicotine but we think the handlebar ashtray and the handlebar spittoon are stupid. Come up with a better idea.”


The nicotine patch covered bicycle seat.

Enjoy the ride!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


In late 1962, Schwinn introduced the Stingray bicycle. Basically, what they did was to take the small-size cruiser-type frame that they’d been producing for years, slap on some butterfly handlebars and a banana seat with a sissy bar, and give the bike a new sleek, hot rod look. Naturally every other bicycle manufacturer followed suit in some form or fashion.

Also back in the 60’s, it was typical to find bicycles being sold in various places other than bicycle shops and department stores – places such as lawnmower shops and auto service stores. Auto service stores such as OTASCO and Firestone. And of course, these shops sold their versions of the ever-popular, Stingray-style bicycles – and at a price somewhat less than what a real Stingray would cost at an authorized Schwinn bicycle shop.

But that little bit of history doesn’t really have a lot to do with our story – other than the two Firestone Stingray-style bicycles that were presents to two brothers back on a mid-60’s Christmas. Gold bicycles - with shiny chrome flared fenders and slick rear tires. With those two bicycles, an entire world immediately became ripe for exploring for two young brothers.

And explore they did. Their world kept expanding with each excursion they took. Those excursions led to other areas of interest – collecting things that they would find along the way. It’s amazing what young boys can find interesting to collect: matchbookspop bottles caps - even things that were a source of income back then – pop bottles. Those bikes made quite a few trips to Stockton’s grocery store with a basket or two full of bottles netting a dollar or two each trip for the guys. Some BIG money back then for sure.

For those who aren’t familiar with section line roads, let me explain. A section of land is one square mile – 640 acres. The four roads at each side of the section are section line roads – north, south, east and west. During the time of the two gold Firestone bicycles, Midwest City, Oklahoma covered almost nine sections. These two boys lived smack, dab in the middle of the middle section. And thusly, their boundaries were assigned: Go anywhere you want to go on your bicycles but don’t cross one any of the four nearest section roads. Meaning – they had a whopping 640 acres in which to ride. Surely that didn’t seem too unreasonable.

Also at this early age, a drafting and artistic background began to emerge in the two lads – and an idea – “Hey, let’s map out all the roads that we ride our bikes on.” So they did. Never mind the fact that maps could be had for free at every single gas station back then!

So off the two boys went – riding – making mapping notes – riding – picking up matchbooks – riding – picking up pop bottles and then heading off to Stockton’s. Riding and riding and riding. And then, wouldn’t you know it. They had ridden and mapped out the entire 640 acres. Permission requested to cross section line roads. Permission granted. (Note: I’m fairly certain that the formal request was probably made at a point in time after several section line road crossings had already been secretly carried out!) Within a few months, the two had pretty much mapped out the entire city and done a tremendous service by cleaning all of the matchbooks and pop bottle caps out of the gutters. The two gold Firestone bikes logging in hundreds and hundreds of miles, modifications, abuse, repair, and whatever else two early-teen youngsters could subject them to.

One day the younger brother came home with – “The English Racer!” A Raleigh, ten-speed beauty that he had wheeled and dealed and traded somebody something for. He was sure proud of his transaction. And the older brother, even though on the verge of graduating to motorized four-wheeled transportation, was indeed impressed and slightly jealous. So they scrounged around and found a frame and assorted parts to put together another ten-speed bike. Not near as cool as “The English Racer,” but cool enough that the two of them could ride in style together until the bikes gave way to “the ’53 Ford.”

Fast forwarding through the calendar, the cycling paths of the two brothers crossed here and there every now and again. Most notably in the early ‘90’s when the younger brother talked of this huge bike ride in Wichita Falls, Texas. So off they went – to join 10,600 other cyclists to ride the Hotter’n Hell Hundred. Their dad was even there to watch – probably to be there to grant them permission to cross a section line road should they encounter one along their journey. The younger one rode his fancy new mountain bike. The older one rode his vintage 70’s ten-speed. It was the longest twenty-five miles that they had ridden together in a long time. But it was a good ride. (My philosophy: All rides are good rides – some only after they’re over.)

Eventually, just like back when the boys outgrew the boundaries of the middle section of Midwest City, Oklahoma, in no time at all the two were looking for bigger and better places to ride. The culmination of that was in 1997 when they decided to do an 8-day, 475-mile ride across Kansas. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that Kansas is flat. Sure, the western portion of the state is fairly flat – but that 400 mph wind out of the south is a killer! Kansas also has a lot of section line roads so naturally the guys invited their dad to ride along with them – granting them permission every mile to go on across the section road. (Yeah, right!) But still, for three guys who were all born in Kansas, it was a pretty neat trip to ride a bicycle clear across your old home state together.

As it is with most siblings, those two brothers shared a lot of good times with each other over the years. Also, as it is with most siblings, probably a few not-so-good ones – but fortunately those times were always trivial. Not all of those good times that the two brothers shared were on bicycles together – but some very memorable ones were. And while sometimes little brothers may too soon go on to other worlds, the good times and good memories stay with us forever. Happy birthday, Gary.

For now – enjoy the ride – and thanks for reading my story.