Last year in my Ambassador posts for Schwinn, I focused mainly on my background with the brand, and my reasons for loving bicycles, but that was only half the story.
Robin and I have known each other since 1975 when we were in the same 5th grade class. She has been a Bel Air resident almost her whole life, I’ve lived in a few different zip codes within a 10 mile radius of Bel Air. On the first day of my Junior year of High School at Harford Vocational-Technical HS, I saw Robin get on my school bus. Being that it was a new school for me, and a school with students from all over the county enrolled, I was looking for familiar faces. I recognized her from elementary school, but couldn’t remember which grade. That afternoon, I grabbed my elementary school class photos to see if I could find her. Once we got reacquainted we realized we had little memory of each other being in that class, but remembered all the same people and antics. (It was a very rowdy group of people, many of whom we’re still good friends with, thanks to social media!)
It’s a fact opposites attract, but once we got to know each other we clicked right together, realizing how alike we are, plus a lot of those little fate things that make me a firm believer in destiny from a higher power.
The final question in my Varsity restoration interview from 2015 is how do I spend my time riding my Varsity? My response includes how biking is a great low impact method of exercise and keeping ourselves feeling young.
Robin has constantly battled her weight after having the kids, and quite a few years ago she was working out at a gym when one of the personal trainers approached her, saying she’s been watching her working out and that she should see a doctor to have her thyroid tested. Her GP at the time, blew her off, chalking it up to her age, and that ‘everyone gains weight when they’re older.’ Needless to say, she stopped going to that doctor, who just wanted to prescribe an anti-depressant. Her new doctor did diagnose her with hypothyroidism and fortunately this new doctor believes in the more holistic approach to treating the condition. My part in helping her with her battle with hypothyroidism and weight is to keep her active on the bike. We try to plan our bike rides of at least a 2 hour duration and I like the long haul rides of 20-30 miles.
Robin’s main ride the past 5 years has been her 2012 Schwinn Searcher Comp Hybrid. Last year, the bike I selected for the ambassadorship was the Signature Series Vantage F1, 27 speed hybrid, as a running mate to her hybrid. This year, for my renewal, I decided Mountain Bikes would be the best alternate type bike for the rail trails we frequent. Both the NCR Trail in Northern Baltimore County into South Central PA and the Great Allegheny Passage in Western Maryland and Pennsylvania have sections that can be sandy or muddy, and our hybrids with their more road bike tires tend to fishtail through the sloppy parts of those trails.
The Mountain bikes do handle the tricky parts of the trails better with their wider, more aggressive tires, and being slightly lower geared, are easier to pull hills.
As has been our tradition since our biking hobby has included rail trails, we made our way out to Frostburg, MD to visit our daughter, her husband and our grandson. Normally, we do the Frostburg trip the first weekend in May to celebrate my birthday and Mothers’ Day, but May is completely booked this year so we moved the trip to the last weekend in April. Fortunately, the weather was decent, higher than average temps, but what goes with that were the uncharacteristic thunderstorms Saturday morning. Because of that, we didn’t get our start on the GAP until 11:00. That late start made it to where I decided we’d turn around at the Eastern Continental Divide so we’d have a completely downhill ride back to Frostburg.
For the first month of the season we split the duties between the Hybrids and the new Rocket Mountain Bikes. After the Maiden Voyage of my Rocket 2 and her Rocket 5 Women’s I asked Robin how she likes the Mountain Bike. She has some critiques, but most are due to the different geometry and handling of the different types. I’ve noticed she likes to go fast. That’s her biggest critique, that the Rocket 5 isn’t as fast as her Searcher Comp.
After it was established we were going to be doing Ambassador duties on Mountain Bikes this year, I did some research and found some local Mountain Bike paths. Some are much closer to home than our usual digs, but we’ll have to get fully acclimated to the bikes before we get real adventurous on rugged terrain, crossing streams and riding over rocks and tree roots.
Stay tuned. This could get interesting. (we’re not exactly Spring Chickens anymore!)
Rob & Robin McLewee
Robin and I are thrilled and flattered to be returning with Schwinn in 2017 as Schwinn Varsity Ambassadors! We’ve been together for three and a half decades, and married 28 years. We’re parents to a daughter and son in their 20’s, and grandparents to our daughter and son-in-law’s son who live in Frostburg, Maryland. He’ll be 2 in July. I have many interests and hobbies, including all forms of mechanized transportation. I’m a tinkerer with my background in our family owned automotive collision repair business who has been riding, maintaining and rehabilitating bicycles since about the age of 8. Robin is the monetary expert of the family. This year, 2017, will be our 6th year of biking adventures around our home state of Maryland, and surrounding states. 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.