Local cycling enthusiast plans 20 days, 20 bikes, 20 stories
There are two types of reactions people have when Chris Brown rides a high-wheeler bicycle around town.
The antique bike with a huge front wheel and a seat that puts Brown about nine feet off the ground is such a unique sight that some people scramble to pull their car to the side of the road, yell, point and grab their camera or phone.
“And some people will look right at you and not conceive of what you are doing,” Brown said.
He’ll be on North Avenue, which is sketchy to ride on a high-wheeler, but also such an interesting scene, and he’ll stop at an intersection next to a car and ...
No reaction from a driver whose eyes are just inches away from Brown’s toes on the bike’s pedals.
“My feet are level with your face! And you don’t even see me!” Brown said. “I’m shocked by that.”
Brown, owner of Brown Cycles, 549 Main St., has plenty of stories about the high-wheeler or any of his bicycles. He has them tucked away and pulls them out depending on the situation: participating in a vintage race, riding over Pikes Peak or biking with the kids.
Each bike has stories attached to it, he said.
To highlight June as Colorado Bike Month and with the hope of hearing stories from other bike enthusiasts, Brown plans to ride a different bicycle to work for 20 days.
He started Monday with a 1951 German Meister 3-Speed and a post on Brown Cycles’ Facebook page with photos and a story about the bike.
As he continues on this 20-day adventure he will ride antique, recumbent, tandem and modern bikes and share stories on Facebook.
“Everybody who walks into my shop, no matter how old they are, they have a story, a bike-related story,” Brown said. “Maybe that is why I do what I do.”
“There’s some lesson or truth that happened when they were riding. It’s really fun to hear those, share those,” Brown said.
Here are some of Brown’s bikes and stories. Look for more stories and photos on Facebook
as Brown continues on his 20-day adventure or take the time to tell him a story in person.
Date: June 12.
Bicycle: 1951 German Meister 3 Speed.
My friend David Hall found these wheels, frame, and fork in a garbage dump in Rhode Island.
It’s a “manual 3 speed.” You gotta loosen up the wheel and slide it forward/back to change the gearing.
It makes me think about what Germany may have been like in the first five years after World War II.
It sits really tall and rides super smooth.
I used it for the first 102-mile Midland Rail Ride to Glenwood Springs, a ride that happens to be coming up this weekend.
The little Roman guy on the headbadge is pretty ornate.
Date: June 13.
Bicycle: 2016 Salsa Deadwood 29+.
So you are riding down the highway on your bike and you see a dirt road that shoots off to the right and disappears off into the distance.
Wonder where it goes? With my Deadwood, now I can find out. I rode this bike to work on this day because after work I want to discover the Southern Fork of Bean Ranch Road.
Bean Ranch Road is part of the old U.S. Highway 50 that leads to Delta. Floyd Onan (longtime Grand Junction resident, who used to ride a unicycle in the parades) had a youth pastor in the 1930s, at the Grand Junction United Methodist Church, that was from the Bean family, thus the name of the road.
It’s starts out as pavement and turns into dirt and goes somewhere… and I’m going to find out.
The Deadwood is a mountain bike and a road bike in one package: rountain bike or moad bike?
Later this fall, I want to use the same bike on an adventure from Glade Park to Gateway. Local cyclist Mitch Hamilton was interested in going. The racks up front are for carrying the “I’m-not-going-to-save-you water” that my wife is donating to the trip.
Date: June 14.
Bicycle: 1890s Crescent.
Sam McMullin lived in the big yellow house on the corner of Seventh Street and Grand Avenue before he was murdered in 1946.
In 1897, McMullin competed in a bicycle race downtown grand Junction against Fred Mantey. This bike frame and parts came from a shed on the corner of J and 20 roads in Fruita, a property McMullin used to own.
Is this McMullin’s second-place bike?
In the tradition of turn-of-the-century bicycle racing, if your crank arm breaks off, you have to find a farm house and weld it back together and jump back in the race, even if the rest of the Leroica (Midland Rail) riders (ahem, Steve Brown) think you made up the story.
The Crescent is long and heavy and takes the rutted out wagon trails pretty well. We tried to choose a paint color close to the original Carmine red.
Date: June 15.
Bicycle: The Salida Chop.
In the late 1970s, Mike Rust was inventing the mountain bike in Crested Butte and later in Salida, while Gary Fisher/Joe Breeze and the rest of the hooligans were inventing the mountain bike in Marin County, California.
Before they all got together, one of Mike’s tricks was to take an early Schwinn cruiser and cut out a section of the rear end and fold the rest of the rear end down around into the bottom bracket and re-weld it.
The result would be a frame with a steeper head angle, shorter wheelbase and chain stays, and a higher bottom bracket. Then they would ride these bikes on rough-and-tumble dirt trails until the frames broke, which according to Don McClung (Mike’s partner in Salida and a well-known Colorado road racer), “didn’t take very long.”
This is my recreation of The Salida Chop. It’s a swell ride.
Oh, and you can’t be chicken if you are going to ride this bike on dirt trails, no matter how many eggs fall out of you.
Date: June 16.
Bicycle: 1983 Fuji Touring Series IV.
This bike is the identical model of the one I rode from Colorado to New York in 1984. I was 17 and a senior in high school.
I put my name in a magazine and found a riding buddy to do the trip with me: an English girl (a Denver nanny) who was wanted to see New York before she was going to turn herself in and get deported so she could get a free plane ride back to England.
And NO, I know what you are thinking. There were no shenanigans.
The Fuji is like a steadily flowing river that rolls farther and faster the more it is loaded down.
I’ll probably take the long way to work today.
— Bicycle stories by Chris Brown