JUNE CHALLENGE: Wanna See The Earliest Known Photo of Me With a Bike?

Somewhere in the world there exists a short film of me and a couple friends racing our bikes, hopping up on curbs, riding with no hands, riding wheelies, and speeding down a dirt path to a riverbank from which we launched into the Little Maquoketa Creek. (In Iowa) We made the movie ourselves for a 6th-grade art project.

I sure wish I knew where that little reel of 8mm film was, because it might be the only documentation out there that shows me, as a kid, riding a bicycle. At least I don’t remember anybody ever taking such a picture, even though at every stage of my life since age seven I’ve ridden bicycles on more days than I haven’t.

Continuing into my adult years no picture of me with a bike was taken — as far as I know — until the one you will see after I take a couple of paragraphs to set the scene.

Rochester, MN: I was about to set off on my first bike tour, except at the time I didn’t know cycle touring was even a thing. I just thought I was going on a backpacking trip, only with my bike.

Indeed, I carried my sleeping bag, camera, rain jacket, an extra pair of socks, cooking gear, food, and water in a backpack as I rode. My tent and foam pad were strapped to a bike rack. I cut the southeastern section out of a Minnesota map and kept it in my pants pocket for navigation.

My trip covered about 200 miles of Minnesota bluff country in four days — all on the knobby tires of my mountain bike. I could never have covered that distance by foot. That was pretty much the point where I started transitioning from wilderness backpacking to bike touring.

My bike trips have gotten longer and slightly less minimalist since then but, looking back, I’d like to try that kind of simplicity again in the future. I kept a journal of that trip in a notebook and I took ten pictures with a camera that used something known as “film.” Until now, nobody but me has ever seen any of it. Perhaps someday I will polish the journal up a little and post it on-line.

Check it out! This is a picture of a picture taken by The Feeshko in August of 2005. I was practically in my prime at 46years old.

Check it out! This is a picture taken by The Feeshko in June of 2020. I was nearing Social Security age. And I can still coax a few miles out of that mountain bike.

The SECOND known picture of me with a bike, at my first campsite in Forestville State Park.

Since I’m writing anyway, I can’t leave you without a short description of today’s ride.

Barely into June, it’s our hottest, humidest (sic) day of the year so far. Yet, it is far better than yesterday when my ride was hot and very windy. I know a few hills that climb away from the Mississippi River where I can break a serious sweat on days like this. Sweat makes me feel good — like I’ve accomplished something. Mission accomplished.

Maybe you’ve heard about the recent murder of a guy named George Floyd at the hands of a cop in nearby Minneapolis. I wanted to ride my bike up there over the weekend in support of the peaceful protesters, but The Feeshko wouldn’t let me out of concern for my safety.

Anyway, the protests spread to various parts of the Twin Cities and then to cities large and small all over the country. Even MY Town was placed under a curfew. Many of the protests, unfortunately, have turned into violence, looting and arson. That was my first thought when I got back to town after my bike ride and I saw this:

There were three fire trucks, one EMT vehicle, and a cop car behind the building where I used to work. We had a lot of volatile solvents in the paint store which would cause a most spectacular fire. Luckily, this wasn’t arson. Bystanders told me it was just a gas leak.

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

8 response to "JUNE CHALLENGE: Wanna See The Earliest Known Photo of Me With a Bike?"

  1. By: The Navigator Posted: June 3, 2020

    Ha! Always start a bike tour by a liquor store… it should be in the rules. Those are some great shots and I love the story of your first backpacking on a bike trip. I think that is how I kinda put together my gear list for my first tour, too – what would I take into the high country? Then adding civilian clothes. You look more confident now than the first thumbs-up photo; the bike still looks good given the harsh winters and all the muck and salt it would have endured so far. Great challenge post!

    • By: gregblood Posted: June 3, 2020

      Thanks Emily. If you were able to get a closer look at all the rust on the mountain bike you wouldn’t say it still looks pretty good. I know I’ve been saying it for about four or five years, but this time I’m quite sure the bike won’t live through the upcoming winter.

      Speaking of civilian clothing, that’s what I rode in. And looking back at the picture, I must say, I sure didn’t give much thought to wearing a bright shirt in order to be seen.

      • By: The Navigator Posted: June 4, 2020

        Lol, oh, I guess I mean the non-stinky clothes set aside to go into museums and such. When you’re backpacking you aren’t out in public or visiting indoor places with other people, so you can just be stinky with your comrades in one set of clothes. But I always have non-riding clothes on long bike trips for times when it is nice for others not to have to be downwind of me after a hot day on the road (week-long tour or less, watch out, small general store proprietors!).

  2. By: BobinVT Posted: June 3, 2020

    Such a shame someone spray-painted your house like that… 🙂

    • By: gregblood Posted: June 3, 2020

      I know! It must have been the rioters. Peaceful protesters like me would have asked if it was OK first, then written “Black Lives Matter” on my house. Then I would have left it there for a while.

  3. By: Bill Stone Posted: June 3, 2020

    Nice pics from the olden days, Greg, but we gotta get that thumb of yours repaired! 😉

    I saw news of curfew in YOUR town. Santa Rosa also under curfew right after that. Just like the Feeshko put you under lockdown, when my ace support crew heard of protests downtown here, she texted me to abort bike ride and return home immediately. I, um, didn’t, um, see that text until, um, after I, um, got home. Yeah. That’s it.

    • By: gregblood Posted: June 3, 2020

      The lack of a “thumbs-up” was the first thing I noticed after I posted. I really thought we had reproduced the original picture as perfectly as possible — t-shirt & cargo shorts, old van-new van, same bike, liquor store in the background, etc. Then I saw that glaring flaw and it pretty much ruined everything.

      If only The Feeshko had texted me not to go to the protests instead of, um, loudly telling me to my face. Then I, too, might not have gotten that text.

  4. By: Suzanne Posted: June 5, 2020

    Well, I’m glad you didn’t joint the peaceful protesters. The news we are getting here are pretty scary.

    Occasionally Janos and I have a yearning for the days of cycle touring with a tent, but on second thought we susupect it might not be the feeling of simplicity that we remember.

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