Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Past bikes: Bike #4

Dang it. I kept putting this post off in the hopes that I'd go dig through a bunch of pictures to find an old photo of Bike #4. Then I would scan it and then this would be such a better post.

But there are a lot of bikes to cover and if I don't just keep plowing ahead, I'll never get them done.

Bike #4 was a light-weight Nishiki. I don't remember what model it was, but I can tell you for 100% certianitudity that it was not volume import. And here's how I know that.

The family two doors down from my childhood home were bike commuters. Bonafide. This is the 80's in Spokane. The dad (Mr. N) taught chemistry at GU. Maybe it was math. I think his wife taught there too. Man I don't know. But they were all stinking geniuses and still are. In fact the folks across the street from them were also geniuses (the S's). I mean this -- I could go on with a bunch of examples but I'll choose one. Mr and Mrs N's youngest boy (Mike) was a friend to me. He loved to shoot hoops in his driveway. One time I sat there with my fancy new calculator watch and called out huge sums which he instantly provided the answers for. Long division with huge numbers took him longer, but he'd do them. So, apparently, my family didn't get the "your kids have to be geniuses to live on this block" memo when they bought the house.

Ok. Mike also commuted. He basically went straight from grade school, spend like 1/2 a year in high school, then went to college. I think he was a grad student at Yale by the time he was about 18. He rode everywhere too. His dad was always tinkering with fancy Japanese bikes. In fact, the first real mountain bike I ever saw was Mike's dad's bike that he built up in about 1983 or so.

I was whinging one day about not having a rad bike. I was in about 7th grade by this time and I wanted a 10-speed. He mentioned that his dad had a Nishiki he'd sell me for $135.

That was a lot of money and my parents couldn't swing it. In fact, I wouldn't even think of asking them. So I got a paper route for exactly 9 months. Every month, I gave a chunk of money to Mike.

That Nishiki rocked. It had toe-clips, down tube shifters, and was crazy light and fast. I'm sure it was all Suntour (mix of cyclone and superbe?) Man it ruled. I took my first ride on the Hangman loop with bike. I explored West Plains. And I generally got around a lot faster on that bike. I learned that taking the Nishiki off the jumps I'd taken on my BMX was a whole different ball game. One of my favorite parts of the day was riding home from junior high (Sac) to hit a fast little trail with a drop in Manito Park.

I also started dreaming about a cross country tour while flipping through the pages of Nashbar, when it was a rad little printed magazine.

I had that bike through high school and into college. Lame ending for that one. I'm sort of ashamed to say -- when I moved out of an apartment in Browns Addition, I stashed the disassembled bike into the back of a crawlspace so I wouldn't have to deal with it. By this point, I was all mountain bike and the old childish ten speed didn't hold much interest for me. Lame.


Glen said...

We have to go back to that crawlspace.

Dan O said...

Great story. Neglected in a crawl space. Ouch.

I worked in a bike shop from '81 - '84 or so. Assembled many Nishiki bikes during that era.

Stine said...

oh, the lost ones. the sold ones.