Bike Friday Boosters
Patrons come in many forms. Angels. True believers. Saints. Bike Friday has been blessed with a holy host of these. Special people whose enthusiasm, commitment and generous spirit has touched us and lifted us and inspired us. These are some of their stories.
We love Manfred and Sharon!
Manfred Schwoch, BF Booster, is a serious bicycle person who invested in Bike Friday way back when he was a Colnago aficionado. He hasn't ridden the Colnago for quite a while … here is is pictured going off the front on his Pocket Rocket Pro at Cycle Oregon/BF Homecoming 2003. We love Manfred and Sharon!
Schwoch on Bike Friday:
Sharon and I bought our NWTs in 1995 after we had been reading about BF in various magazines for a couple of years. That year Sharon said, why don't we do this!
The idea of a folding bike for traveling always appealed to us, and in particular to me, being from Germany, since Europe always had some folding bikes -- though they were apparently mostly cumbersome and heavy.
So in 1995 we bought our blue and red NWTs and first did a test ride up Poudre Canyon in Colorado over Cameron Pass, and back down over Trail Ridge Road, through Estes Park and back to Boulder, pulling our suitcases as trailers.
The suitcases worked well on that short trip, presenting no problems, but we haven't traveled with them since -- mostly since we haven't been flying much since then.
That same year, 1995, we flew to the Big Island of Hawaii and cycled it, with panniers, counter-clockwise from Kona (dry west side) to Hilo (wet east side) and back to Kona.
It was a great trip, and the best possible introduction to the islands I could imagine -- indeed, to me seeing any new place first by bicycle has always been the best-possible way (including a pre-BF trip in the 70's along the Oregon coast to Seattle).
A couple years later we were planning to cycle in France. One week before departure I was riding back to work in the (infrequent) rain on a lunch-time training ride and wiped out in a curve, breaking my collar bone. So, the cycling trip turned into a driving trip -- evidently I was no Tyler Hamilton, but perhaps I would have re-thought that decision had I known what he would do later. It wasn't all for the worse since at the same time my wife, Sharon, had a flare-up of an earlier illness, and fully-loaded cycling might have turned out too much for her.
In the meantime, I haven't flown much with my bike, but I did Ride the Rockies in Colorado four times, GRABAAWR (Great Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River) twice, all on the NWT.
Then, in 2002, the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation in Northern Indiana came up, and I was thinking that perhaps I should cycle there. I got the idea from a late friend of ours, Hartley Alley here in Boulder, CO. Hartley rode his bike from Boulder to Lynn, MA on the East Coast some years earlier.
I intended to cycle fully-loaded by myself, but close to departure time Sharon was laid off from her position and decided she wanted to support me in our newly acquired VW Eurovan Camper, so that's what we did.
It was a lucky thing for me, too, because I found that had I been completely on my own, my planning would have been inadequate -- the Adventure Cycling route was low-traffic alright, but also very low-service, and I was wondering where I would have camped in many places since there were few actual campgrounds on the route.
Anyway, my trusty NWT took me through eastern Colorado, the stiff winds of Kansas, east and north through Missouri, including what I at least thought were the Ozarks, given the roller-coaster hills (my former boss, being from MO, claimed these hills were not really the Ozarks), Northern Illinois, and on to Northern Indiana, 1,850 miles in all, 29 actual riding days with 14 miles on the shortest day, 91 the longest, and an average of 64 per day--with zero flat tires and no mechanical problems.
In Kansas, where for days I only saw the left side of my bike because of the winds and felt that on my heavy Schwalbe Marathon tires I was riding a brewery horse rather than a bicycle, I executed Plan B and switched to my Ride-the-Rockies-proven Continental Grand Prix tires -- and finally felt that I was actually getting somewhere. In all, a great trip on which Sharon worked a lot harder supporting me than I did, and on which I learned to dodge a greater variety of dog chases than I would have thought possible.
Meanwhile I had gone to my first Bike Friday Homecoming and ordered my Pocket Rocket Pro, which I rode on Ride the Rockies, GRABAAWR, Cycle Oregon, and at the BF AZ Desert Training Camp, and which proved to be a really fine machine built for speed. In fact, this week I'm finally getting rid of my old Colnago which I haven't ridden since getting the PRP -- I guess I am now firmly a small-wheel rider -- of their versatility, riding quality, and uniqueness.
On one Ride the Rockies trip the van we were using had a limited number of bike racks, and so I just folded mine into the small cloth bag and piled it atop the other bags in the van, as just another piece of luggage.
Manfred Schwoch, Manfred.Schwoch@Colorado.edu