My appreciation for Schwinn bicycles sprang from envy of my best friend’s red 5 Speed STIK-SHIFT Sting-Ray with the racing slick in the mid-1970’s. I had a purple 3-speed Iverson bike that my grandfather bought for me from Toys R Us that I built myself out of the box in their driveway at about 8 years of age. I remember my grandfather buying himself a light blue Schwinn Varsity around the same time, which was about the time he retired from his job. Unfortunately, not long after that his bike was stolen.
By 1978, I had become a teenager and I had outgrown the purple 3-speed and was ready for a 10-speed bike, so naturally, I wanted my first Schwinn. My father took me to the local Schwinn dealer and I bought a Flamboyant Red 1978 Varsity. I continued the Schwinning tradition into the ‘90’s when I bought my daughter her first two wheeler, a 1998 Schwinn Stardust.
Fast-forward to summer of 2010. Robin and I had gotten into Sunday morning cycling around our neighborhood using some mountain bikes we had. My Varsity was stored in the crawlspace under my parents’ house and had been there since the early 80’s, except for a short time when I had let my sister’s boyfriend borrow it. In August of 2010, while on vacation in Ocean City, MD., I had a brainstorm to resurrect the ol’ Schwinn to use on those neighborhood rides. My first step when taking on the project was to research the subject. Google searches turned up history articles, informational sites, and restoration parts sources, but it was also then that I stumbled upon the Ride Schwinn Facebook page.
The Varsity’s refurbishment was complete by spring, 2011, and Robin and I continued our Sunday morning neighborhood rides. Early 2011 was also our daughter’s second semester at Frostburg State University in Western Maryland. On one of our visits to Erica’s college we checked out the Frostburg Depot of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad which is also a trail head for the Great Allegheny Passage that extends for 150 miles between Cumberland, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our aspirations turned to trail riding the GAP and other Rail Trails in MD and PA. Between Cumberland and Frostburg, the GAP bike path runs parallel to the tracks of the WMSR. Steam locomotives and trains are another one of my passionate interests.
Christmas of 2011 is when I started shopping for a high quality hybrid bike for Robin to call her own. (being the baby of her family, any bike she ever had was a hand-me-down) I browsed a local bike shop, but they didn’t have any sporty, but also feminine looking women’s hybrids. Enter schwinnbikes.com. I wanted for her a women’s hybrid with 24-speeds, Shimano rapid-fire trigger shifters, front suspension, and disc brakes. The Schwinn Searcher Comp filled all my criteria, down to the sexy Hot Pink (Magenta, officially) and White accents on its Black frame. Using the dealer locator on Schwinn’s site, I found Performance Bicycle. I printed the page from schwinnbikes.com and took it to Performance to see if they could order it for me. Since it was a Saturday, the salesman at Performance was not able to call Schwinn, so I left my info with them to call me the following Monday with availability. In the mean time, I had my first interaction with the staff of the Ride Schwinn Facebook page. I posted the link and asked if Performance would be able to get the bike. They assured me it was available. About a week later, I got the call her bike came in, but when we went down to pick it up, I hadn’t gotten the message the incorrect size was shipped to the store. They had already rectified the situation and the correct bike came in 3 days later. It was my 2012 Valentine’s Day gift to her.
My good bicycle fortune continued into 2012 when on Memorial Day weekend I entered a Facebook friend, Shirley (pictured with her son on the right), in the Ride of a Lifetime Sweepstakes, who had signed up for an Irongirl Triathlon and didn’t yet have a bike. I jokingly told her, “you don’t have to buy a bike, I’ll win you one.” Low and behold, the first round of winners in the sweepstakes was announced and I saw “Rob from Maryland” as the first name listed. I chose for her the Schwinn Voyageur 21, and for myself, picked the 4 One-One. The 4 One-One, with its integrated handlebar basket, and internal gear 5-speed drivetrain, is the perfect bike for taking on our trips to the beach.
For the past 5 years I’ve had lots of fun posting photos, and commenting on others’ posts to Ride Schwinn on Facebook, so naturally when the opportunity came up to become an ambassador I jumped at the chance to combine three of my hobbies and blog (and brag) about a company I’ve believed in for over 40 years.
[Check out Rob’s story about refurbishing his Schwinn Varsity here!]
My name is Rob, and my wife/ partner in crime is Robin. We’ve been together for a little over three decades, and married 27 years. We have a daughter and son, both in their 20’s and we have one grandson who will have his first birthday in July. I have many interests and hobbies, including all forms of mechanized transportation. I’m a tinkerer who has been riding, maintaining and rehabilitating bicycles since around 8 years old.
This year, 2016, will be our 5th year of biking adventures around our home state of Maryland, and into Pennsylvania and Delaware. Maryland has the nickname of “America in Miniature” and we experience the whole state from the rail trails of the Allegheny Mountains out west, to our neighborhoods in the Northeast, to the Atlantic beach resorts.
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