Exploring Double on a Schwinn Stingray

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I was riding back from Lawrence the other day and made a stop at a convenience store only 10 miles from home. I hate those stops, but since it has been so crazy hot, I’m starting to get used to drinking a ton of cold liquids and since I was in no hurry, I did it.

I was sitting there drinking a Gatorade when a guy comes walking out of the store with a bag of ice. He says something about it being pretty hot to be out. And then he asks me where I was going. I told him that I’d ridden over to Lawrence and was coming back to Topeka. Then he goes into a story about a time when he rode to Lawrence.

He told me that when he was 9, he ran away from home with his older brother, who was 11. They got on a Schwinn Stingray and rode the 30+ miles, him on the handlebars, facing and pedaling backwards, and his brother on the seat pedaling normally. He said he had no idea how long that took them, but that was as far as they got. I said something like that was a very long ways to go riding like that, plus it was super far for running away from home at that age. He agreed.

Why this story resonated with me was because my brother and I used to ride this way. I’m not sure why we did it because we both had bikes. I had the Stringray. My brother usually had a Collegiate. We went through a ton of bikes, most being stolen within a year or two. But, when we really started “breaking the rules” and straying outside our set perimeter of our parents, we rode this way. I was on the handlebars and he would ride normal.

This was the way we rode when we started to really explore the city of Topeka. We rode all the way down to the river, which was maybe 3 miles from our house. We found a dirt jump track at a park that was way out of bounds for us. We kept all of this secret from our parents of course. But, this was the time that I really started loving the aspects of riding a bike, not just for the transportation benefit, but for the exploration and new frontier aspect.

I’ve never stopped having that feeling. Riding a bike in a new place is always great, even when I just end up getting lost in a business park, seeing new terrain is always good. And when I’m somewhere where I don’t have the ability to ride, I always wish I had my bike, or the time, to explore.

I asked the guy at the convenience store when was the last time he rode a bike. He said he hadn’t ridden one for years and years. I told him he should try it again, it might surprise him. He said he had a bad knee and was too old, that he leave it to young guys like me. I asked him how old he was and he said 48. I held my tongue and told him he had plenty of time and maybe next time he saw a bike laying around, he should take it for a spin. I think I caught a thought, through his eyes, that he might just do that. I hope I was right.

Trudi just told me that her nephew, Parker, was riding his bike from his home in Glen Ellen up to Delavan Wisconsin this morning, alone. It’s 80 miles. I hope he has a great time and enjoys the scenery. I wonder if he’s riding his single speed?

We don’t see this much here in the US.

And don’t forget the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games tonight.
Here’ a link to Podium Insight where they have all the schedules for the cycling events and links to where to watch them on the internet.

7 thoughts on “Exploring Double on a Schwinn Stingray

  1. Veloloser

    I did a solo bike tour of Europe some 20 yrs ago. You miss so much being in a car, especially in Europe where there are cool things everywhere.

  2. Smirkyboy

    It is a wonder, how riding my bike, makes me feel so good. The “best days” at work are when I ride in. I agree it is the little things that I get to see that make it so great. This morning it was a dog chasing his tail. A great way to start a Friday!

  3. channel_zero

    Way to sell cycling Steve!

    It’s interactions *just* like yours that will improve bicycling in the U.S. in a million different ways.

  4. Steve Wathke

    It was nice of you not to call that guy out about riding 30 miles when he was just a kid on a stingray especially on the handlebars. He was little. And probably thought he had made it to Lawrence. That’s probably how he wants to remember it.
    I can remember riding my bmx bike from Chippewa falls Wisconsin to Eau Claire Wi. When I was 13 just to visit my girlfriend. I think I enjoyed the ride over and back just as much as hanging out with her. I loved riding my bike but for some reason my Dad thought it was stupid and always talked about how I should be saving for a car. I guess he finally won. When I was 16 and started driving I have up my bmx dreams. It was until I was in my 30’s that a neighbor had a sweet trek bike and I commented how cool it was. He asked if I wanted to go riding. He has an extra trek in his basement. We went out for 17 miles and I was hooked all over again. It totally brought back all those good feelings and I loved seeing the world from tr perspective of a bike. Great Story! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Bryan

    We just picked up a ’71 Schwinn Breeze for my wife to cruise around town on (it’s awesome!). I’ve taken my 5 year old around the neighborhood a few times with her on the handlebar facing me. It’s a blast!

  6. Richard Wharton

    First bike was a Schwinn Stingray, yellow and complete with a tall orange flag. I used to jump it over an old giant tinkertoy set, like Evel Kneivel, in Jackson, MS. Every time I see a Stingray, I choke up. Thanks for the memory peg, Steve!


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