Look Mom, No Hands!



This post is dedicated to my brother, Mike. Riding on the back of his 5-Speed Schwinn Sting Ray while he went free handed down Rogers Avenue in South St. Louis seemed so scary at the time. But those far-away, exhilarating moments in time were foundational in my becoming a girl that loves the thrill of going fast…the number of wheels is unimportant. Besides, if you ride a bike, you never have to worry about rolling the windows down.

Being too big to wrap, Santa left it under the tree with a bright red bow tied around the handlebars. My brother, Mike, got one too. Both were Schwinn; mine was a Lil’ Chick, and Mike’s was a 5-speed Sting Ray. Not sure which was more exciting…getting a bike from Santa or riding on the back of my brother’s. (Here’s a pretty cool kaleidoscope.)

I wasn’t a dare devil back then, but my brother perfected the free-handed coast, sometimes at my mercy.  We grew up riding bikes, motorcycles, appreciating adventure.   I haven’t thought much about bike riding in these past years, but things always happen for a reason…

Recently I had the occasion to visit South Side Cyclery with my mom, as she was purchasing helmets for her twin great grand sons. Immediately I was impressed with the service we received from the store manager, which prompted an interview.

On the day of the interview, to no surprise, I felt immediately welcome in the world of two-wheel excitement…

South Side Cyclery is a place where families and individuals go to pursue an interest, fulfill a dream.   One might see cycling as a way to get in shape, spend time with friends and family, or even scratch the adventure itch. There is something for everyone at South Side Cyclery and customer service is top notch. You can count on a friendly and knowledgeable staff with Jean and Chris on the sales floor ready to greet customers, many by their first names. In the back, Don the Legend performs his magic as South Side’s technician. He has been with SSC for 29 years.

South Side Cyclery is unique in that it facilitates needs for the whole public. There is a warm neighborhood feel to the store, and its inventory is comfortably multifaceted and matched to the needs of all cyclists….a child’s first bike, riders with custom fit needs, and those who have racing in their heart.   SSC holds ‘customer appreciation’ events where bikers get to ride with fellow cyclists and gain a comfort for riding on the road. The shop accommodates Scouting groups looking to earn their bicycling belt loop. Finally, giving back comes easily to this local bike shop. The store is a donation site for Major Taylor, an organization dedicated to giving recyclable bikes to inner city school children. Click here to learn more.

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The guy that keeps the wheels spinning on excellence at South Side Cyclery is Manager Tim Cole…a down to earth family man who considers himself lucky to come to work everyday surrounded by something he loves. He takes great pride in working for SSC and speaks highly of his co-workers, management, and the history of the shops. While typing out an answer to one of my questions a customer was served happily, quickly, and without missing a beat. A tire was patched with explanation, and a satisfied customer was on his way.

Tim's great smile, ready to greet a customer!

Tim’s great smile, ready to greet a customer!

Tim’s advice for the first-time cyclist: “don’t force it, let it come naturally, and above all-enjoy the ride”. Hmmm, that’s exactly how I feel during a stoplight race!

Tim’s suggestions for riding:                                                                                         Recreational-Grant’s Trail, River Des Peres, and Mississippi River Front Trail                         Off-Road-Lost Valley, Greensfelder, and Matson Hill

It’s no secret I will always prefer my adventures to be two-lane fast on four wheels, something of the small block variety, with a window-rattling rumble. Thanks to the wonderful folks at South Side Cyclery, I now appreciate the beauty of traveling about on two wheels, under one’s own power, enjoying the solace of nature’s song. Remember…You’re never too old to ask Santa for the perfect set of wheels. Two or four-both are unique to the individual and the rewards that come with them are without a doubt too big to wrap. Untie the bow and set about on your own adventure. It’s a big road out there.

South Side Cyclery is one of three family-owned shops.  The other two are South County Cyclery located on Lin Ferry and Trans-Am located in Farmington. Click here for a detailed history of the shops.

Whether you are looking for a new bike, repairs on an existing one, or the inspiration to jump into the world of cycling a visit to one of these great locations is a must!

And finally….there are  always options.  Or as I’d like to say-Bike Bling!

Please feel free to take my just-for-fun polldaddy poll!  As always…windows down, heater on, and radio up!

About Debbie

Love cars, love writing, love family...that about does it.
This entry was posted in Journal, Off the Road, Time Trials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Look Mom, No Hands!

  1. Katie says:

    Great article! Hooray for bike bling!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim Duncan says:

    I guess when you grow up in South St. Louis, people have many common experiences. My first Schwinn, a 5 speed “Fastback” Stingray, while my younger sister got the Lil’ Chik. Both at the same time and both in flamboyant purple.. Great memories !!! You couldn’t be more correct about the South Side Cyclery business, and the folks that own & work there.. A great crew and close friends. I’ve been a customer since I was old enough to get there on my bike, and stick my nose against the old glass counters that displayed all the wondrous bike stuff that made me a lifelong enthusiast.
    Great article!!
    I also couldn’t agree more about a huge interest in cars.. How could anyone not be an car enthusiast in South City.. I can remember stopping by several garages in the old neighborhood while the “older” guys were wrenching on their 55 Chevys and 1st Gen Mustangs.. Somehow I managed to hang onto my first car since 1969.. My parents bought a used 67 Mustang and passed it along to me during my High School years.. As you look back, I couldn’t be happier about growing up here…

    Jim D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie says:

      Hey Jim! Your comment is so awesome and appreciated. This was such a fun post to write. The folks at SSC are certainly top notch. Old neighborhood? Ours was the area of Winnebago. Remember Sam the Watermelon Man? Finally cars are my first love and driving force behind this blog. So glad to take a look at Tim’s world of two wheels.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Great writing, Debbie, I really enjoyed reading about biking too. I love to bike. We biked two miles to school and two home every day from sixth grade to graduation. (rain and snow and uphill all the way both ways!!)
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Such a well written article!! It brought back a lot of childhood memories, when having a bike was all a kid really needed to satisfy their desire for adventure…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie says:

      Back in the day (smiley face here) we didn’t worry much about helmets just that we could hop on and ride. Sometimes it meant riding out of the radar of our own parents, and sometimes it meant hoping we could ride by the glow of the lightning bugs and stay out just a few minutes longer.


  5. Always great when you get good service from a store. Bikes seem to have much more fun then than now. Nice post as ever Debbie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bradnuessle says:

    Great article that’s bringing back some memories of my childhood. Southside cyclery was where I would go as a kid riding Sears’ version of the Schwinn Stingray… a hand me down from brother Steve that became Jon’s bike. Add to that… my dusty 12 speed came from SouthSide. Great people then, great people now. Thanks Dearest One!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks Brad! I should have taken a picture of the bike and included it in the post. Did not know this detailed tib bit.


    • Pete says:

      Brad — I’d like to suggest we name your 12-speed something different. Dusty? Nah!!! How about Flash? 🙂

      Good ole Southside. What a great topic, Debbie. I think I was a fixture there in my more formative years. When I started repairing bikes at age 10, I used to frequent Southside a lot. If someone’s bike wasn’t working, it was up to me to fix it, if we wanted to do something that day. The funny part is that my love for cycling is what got me started running too. If my bike was down for the count, I would run down to the shop, get what I needed and run back home. (Back then, running with a spare tire around my waist meant something entirely different. Go figure.)

      I’m happy I was able to help build Southside’s business. After all, I don’t know many other places that received as much of my allowance as they did. Okay, maybe John & Mary’s or Dinkle’s, but Bub’s Daddy, Sweetarts and Swedish Fish were my fuel back then.

      Thanks for the memories. So fun…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie says:

        Hey Pete! Thanks so much for your amazing response. I’m learning from this blog post that there is a great deal of potential dialogue about the part that a bicycle played in a person’s life.


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