I was born in Buffalo 65 years ago, and began cycling as a commuter in 1965, traveling from Cheektowaga to UB’s Main Street Campus. When winter came I still needed to get to school inexpensively, so I adapted to the weather. In a news item I saw a person riding in Siberia, and figured if he or she could do that, I could ride here. I rode a 3 speed “English Racer” until 1990, and then got a single speed with 2 inch tires (instead of inch and three-eighths), which rode better through the snow.
The power of the bike is enormous, and I never once was stopped by the weather, not even during the Blizzard of ’77. That Monday, with the City of Buffalo closed to traffic, I rode by the police barrier without challenge.
I commuted by bike to my job as a scientist at Roswell Park for 40 years, and this habit gave me more time in each day than anyone else had. On the bike I got and hour and a half of exercise, my ride to work, and an hour and a half of books on tape (listening legally with one earphone), and these were all done in the same hour and a half.
My riding of 3500 miles a years increased in the years 2003-2005, due an opportunity Lance Armstrong and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company thought up. They chose about 25 people in each of those three years to ride across the United States in relay teams running 24 hours a day for 8 days, to raise awareness of the need for people to participate in cancer clinical trials. Most of those chosen were cancer survivors, but I had had 13 members of my family struggle against cancer, and dedicated my career to that cause. I doubled my riding to get qualified for this endeavor, and began racing with the Buffalo Bicycling Club. Each year over a thousand cyclists with a connection to cancer applied for these teams, and I was very fortunate to get selected for the 2005 team. Each of the four teams of 6 people covered 840 miles in 8 days, and we were proud of the effort we dedicated to cancer fighters we knew personally. Since the 2005 ride I have continued to ride an average of 135 miles a week, adding a new cancer patient to the list of heroes I ride for every week. I presently have 44,800 miles in my Cancer Heroes program, with 336 heroes on my list so far. I intend to keep riding 7000 miles a year for cancer fighters as long as I am able, and am always interested in hearing the stories of people affected by cancer, to add these individuals to my list and as further inspiration to my riding.
I have several bicycles. The commuter bike weighs 80 pounds, has tires like tank treads, and will carry anything anywhere through any weather. I have a special tandem I ride with my wife, which provides her a recumbent seat up front, while I ride a standard saddle behind her as I steer the vehicle. I have a light road bike that my family bought me when I began racing. It weighs only 16 pounds, and is so fast I cannot keep up with it!
About three years ago I retired from Roswell Park to care for my elderly parents at our home. Though I no longer have a job to which to commute, I ride whenever possible, and do as many errands on the bike as I can. I delivered a hundred pounds of household goods to a local charity on the bike, I carried 80 pounds of sound equipment on the bike to Roswell Park to teach square dancing at the Cancer Survivor Day picnic, and I delivered a gas clothes dryer to my home, all on the bicycle. I used a furniture dolly attached to the rear carrier of my commuter bike to manage these loads.
My Other Bike is a…?
My son has a folding Strida bike which he lets me borrow occasionally; it folds up quickly and is so small it can be carried onto the bus. We do own a car (Prius) which is used when necessary. That gets 50 miles per gallon of gas, but I get 800 miles per gallon of body fat on the bike.
Bicycling in Buffalo?
Bicycling in Buffalo is terrific. Nearly all automobile drivers are careful and considerate. The few who are not can be upsetting, but I find that if I delay my response for ten seconds, the problem is gone, and I realize that educating an irate driver is neither advisable nor probable. Most roads have good shoulders, especially the main roads like Main Street, and the greatest danger lies in parked cars who may open their doors into my path. I try to give them extra room, and I make noise when passing a long series of parallel parkers. There are miles of very pleasant paved bike/running path, all the way from the Harbor up along Lake Erie, the Niagara River, the old Erie Canal, Tonawanda Creek, Ellicott Creek, and along former railways all the way to Akron. You can get the Great Buffalo/Niagara Regional Transportation Council map showing these at many bike shops. My wife and I often ride these on our tandem, and the 15 mile and hour speed limit is about perfect for that bike. I hope we can get more paved bikeways in the area, and more opportunities for carrying bikes on public transportation. Shared bikes and cars are also an important innovation whose time has come. There a people in our area who work hard to help cycling help people, so visit the GO Bike Community Bike Shop (“Blue Bikes”) on Colvin just north of the Zoo and get into it! There is no easier or more pleasant way to burn 600 calories an hour!