As a way to show you the people behind PeopleForBikes.org, we’re launching a quick interview series on the first Friday of every month. The theme? Bicycling firsts. Kicking off the series is PeopleForBikes.org’s president, Tim Blumenthal. We all started riding somewhere. Here’s where Tim began.
PeopleForBikes.org: What is your first memory of bicycling?
Tim Blumenthal: I don’t really have one. I’ve seen a Polaroid of me standing next to my first two-wheeler?a shiny-red bike with fenders?at age four, with a big smile. I remember my first bike shop better: it was Mike’s Bikes in Rye, New York?just down the street from our YMCA. I could draw you a perfect floor plan of the shop and probably a good likeness of Mike himself.
PFB: When did you first fall in love with bicycles?
TB: I rode around the neighborhood and everywhere in town from age 5-16. I could get anywhere in 10 minutes: frozen pond for hockey, park for football, the neighbor’s garage basketball hoop, Sunrise Pizza…. I had a paper route with 65 subscribers and delivered them six days a week using a Raleigh three-speed that I bought with my earnings. The Wednesday paper was so thick that I couldn’t fit all the papers into my baskets, so I had to make two trips. Rainy days were tough and slow, but built character.
I was a ski racer. I remember seeing a picture of Jean-Claude Killy on a racing bike in Sports Illustrated. I thought he looked pretty cool. My first date with my wife Lise was a bike ride on Peugeot 10-speeds. I didn’t fall in love with the bike, but…
Tim as editor of Bicycling Magazine with a shirt from the first Fat Tire Bike Week.
PFB: When did you first know bicycling would be part of your career?
TB: My 11th grade French teacher Mr. Caterson told our class that someday we would be glad that we studied French diligently or sad that we didn’t because some day it would become a key part of our professional careers. I remember that everyone in the class laughed hysterically. Eight years later, there I was as an editor of the leading national bike racing publication, Velo-news, which was then published in southern Vermont. Reading and understanding what the French cycling mags, Miroir du Cyclisme and Velo, were writing about the up-and-coming racers Greg LeMond and Jonathan Boyer, was a key part of my job. Mr. Caterson: You were right! Seven Olympics and 34 years in the biz have followed…and it’s been a magnificent ride.
PFB: What is your favorite thing about bicycling?
TB: Coming back into town?any town?at sunset, feeling tired, hungry and content after a long ride of any kind. Everything looks good and smells great, especially wood-fired grills.
Second thing: Spectating high on a big climb late in a major stage race, when a breakaway of stars comes around a switchback, followed by team vehicles, and the commissaire and race director cars. Moto marshalls are buzzing all around, fans are going crazy, and it is heart-pounding chaos.
Tim interviews Dave Wiens (who’s for bikes too)