My Cycling “Triumph”

I grew up in Crestwood NY, a section of the city of Yonkers and a suburb north of New York City. It was a nice area, most families were pretty well off but being near Scarsdale and Bronxville, we knew our place was a notch or two down. Crestwood was a mix of white and blue collar families, we had hot rodders and garage bands, baseball and football being played on Schultze Field, and every kid had a bicycle.

I grew up on the top of a small hill on Juana Street, in the northernmost section of what started out as the Cecil Park subdivision. We had to explain that it was Jewanna, not Wanna, but with the magic of the internet I now know that in the early 1900’s, when Cecil Park was laid out it was supposed to be Joana Street. When they drew the map, they typeset in the lettering and the “O” was set a little high between the two lines making it look like JUANA. It took a while before a mapping company put out a map of the area but they called it Juana and it stuck. We would race our bicycles down the hill, we would have roll-out contests to see who could make the furthest distance, and in the days of one speed bikes, we would traverse the hill to get back to the top. The same hill was perfect for similar events with sleds and toboggans.

Like most kids in the neighborhood, we got wherever we were going on our bikes. We stayed in the confines of Crestwood, for a couple of reasons. The neighborhood was bordered on the east by the Bronx River Parkway, complete with iron guardrails which made crossing the road dangerous. On the west we had the north to south Scarsdale Road which ran from Tuckahoe to Scarsdale, and was situated at the bottom of some serious hills. We did not ride up Crisfield Street, we hitchhiked, or more likely just hiked the mile to the A&P or Adventurers Inn.

For a lot of us, a bicycle was used to run a daily paper route, which I did for a number of years, the last being the section on top of the hill above Scarsdale Road access either by manning up and tackling Crisfield Street or another hill on Old Army Road. That would have been the road used by Washington’s army.

I enjoyed the freedom of my bicycle so much that I was able to upgrade to a 10 speed. It was a Japanese bike, the brand being Kabuki, and was a bright blue. My sister got an orange one at the same time, but mine got used while hers collected dust. At the age of 14 I heard about bicycle camping and tried to start a Bicycle Camping Club at my high school. We had one, maybe two meetings but it was a non-starter; ahead of it time. I still had the Kabuki and that dream of having the freedom to go where ever I wanted on my bicycle.

Fast forward to my late teens and I talked two of my buddies into taking a week long bike camping trip from our home in Mamaroneck NY to Cape Cod. The three of us made the trip. We had one minor crash when one of us fell a bit behind and we waited for him. He was trying to catch up and came barreling into us as we stood roadside. Luckily there was not much damage. Later, as we approached the Cape, my Kabuki failed me and the rear hub came apart. Fortune looked down on us as there was a local bike shop and they fixed it up. We made to the the end of the cape, Provincetown. We had made arrangements to be picked up and driven home, which was a good thing because we were used up.

The following year I convinced my best friend and our girlfriends (later wives and kids) to make the same trip at the end of the school year. We had a great time. The next year it was just me and Barbara. We made the same trip all the way to Provincetown but this time my parents had conveniently scheduled a sailing trip to the cape with their boat. We got to see them and my sister came up and drove us home.

That was over 40 years ago. I stopped riding for 30 of those years but have been getting in over 2,000 road bike miles a year for the last 12 years. Barbara has done more most years, opting to ride in the Hotter Than Hell ride in Wichita Falls each year. I retired this January but she is still working, so I am on my own. This time I have a touring bike, a Specialized Sequoia, outfitted with waterproof panniers!

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