As the only grandparents in the group of ambassadors and one of the few old enough to remember Schwinn’s heyday of the 1970’s, I feel it’s my duty to bring awareness of the brand to the next generation. I started my daughter off with her Schwinn in the late 1990’s and now she’s a mom, so we already started our grandson off with his first Schwinn, the Roadster Trike in the quintessential, and Schwinn’s trademark red color. Oliver’s second birthday was July 10th, and we are expecting a Granddaughter in late September- early October. In my penchant for tinkering and taking things that look bad and making them look good again, I’m looking forward to someday fixing up Erica’s 1998 Stardust for Lucy.
On most of Robin’s and my two-wheeled adventures we don’t really strike up many conversations. I’ll compliment people’s bikes, and if I see someone on a Schwinn, I’ll bring up the Ambassador program but not enough to really engage and get “WROB” on the air (my mom’s nickname for me when she couldn’t get me to stop talking.) However, when I traveled to California with Schwinn to the Tour of California bike race, I did talk to a few passers by about the brand. For the most part, they were people in my age group and many of them were not aware Schwinn was still around, aside from the toy store and department store offerings. We Brand Ambassadors are assigned different roles, and different aspects of the Schwinn brand to represent, and my role was to represent the Schwinn Signature bikes. The Signature Line bikes are the models available at Independent Bike Dealers (IBD). The Signature Line more closely follows Schwinn’s heyday of a more tailored bicycle, available in various sizes, colors, with different brands and price points of the components.
This year, we’re splitting the duties between our Hybrids and our Mountain Bikes. Last year I used my Schwinn Vantage F1 Hybrid, while Robin used her trusty 2012 Women’s Searcher Comp. Hybrids are so-named because their geometry and componentry are a blend of Road bike, Mountain bike, and Comfort bike. I picked the Vantage because, like Robin’s Searcher, it’s considered a Sport Hybrid with its “Road Tuned” frame, narrow, smooth tread 700x32C tires, and hydraulic disc brakes. This year, since the Rocket Mountain Bikes are our conveyance of choice, we have been using the hybrids for the paved routes we ride, while we’ve switched to the Mountain bikes for the trails that have the wider variety of surfaces.
In August we had our annual, extended family vacation in Ocean City, MD where for the past 5 vacations, have taken our bikes to join the throngs of cyclists biking the Boardwalk, Northside Park, and the neighborhoods of Maryland’s biggest resort town. Ocean City actually becomes Maryland’s 2nd largest city during the summer months. This year, Robin and I agreed we should haul the bikes over to Assateague Island to explore and see the wild ponies. She had never been, and I’d only seen it from a boat. Assateague Island is a 37 mile long barrier island and is part of Maryland’s and Virginia’s Atlantic coastline. Assateague Island is separated from Ocean City by The Inlet created by a storm in August 1933, and is accessed via Stephen Decatur Hwy in West Ocean City. We parked the car at the Visitors Center parking lot on the mainland and rode the bikes over to the island across the bridge. The first two miles of the park is managed by Maryland State Parks and the rest of the island and into Virginia is managed by the National Park Service as Assateague Island National Seashore. If camping’s more your thing, then Assateague might be an option to for your beach vacation over OC’s busyness. Robin and I went over to mingle with the horses, which can be seen freely roaming the beach, campgrounds, marshes on the bay side, and crossing the road and bike paths.
During the week, we also took our traditional 15 mile round trip ride from our condo in North Ocean City to the Boardwalk and The Inlet at the south end of town. For some reason, OC seemed (pleasantly) a little less crowded than usual, and the Boardwalk ride was a more leisurely than past years. We only had one rainy day during our week, and since Erica and family had to leave Monday, we put off bike riding until Tuesday. Tuesday started out cloudy and cool, but it made for good riding, and something to do while we waited out the clouds for a “beach day.” We rode over to Northside Park, and around the neighborhoods of North Ocean City to the Delaware line to the Fenwick Lighthouse.
A couple weekends ago we revisited Susquehanna State Park and gave the singletrack another run on the Rockets. I’m getting to really like that off road trail, and the more we get to know them the easier they’ll be to master (or better yet, overcome a bit of intimidation). There are a few more Mountain Biking trails even closer to home than Susquehanna, but Susquehanna is a great beginner trail before we should try the more difficult trails of Gunpowder Falls. On the “Horse Poopidy Loop” (gotta love the names the MTB clubs have given the trails) we did more “hiking with bikes” than actual riding.
The last week of August I was browsing TrailLink.com to find a change of pace and saw the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail was reasonably close. The B&A Trail is connected to the BWI Trail (Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) via the John Overstreet Connector trail and stretches 13 miles to US Route 50 in Annapolis. The BWI Trail, the connector, and the B&A Trail are completely asphalt paved and mostly level with a few moderate hills and climbs to overpasses, and the hybrids are the perfect bike for this ride, and ya might have to keep an eye out to not exceed the 15 mph speed limit. The coolest feature of the B&A Trail is the Planet Walk, a scale model of the Solar System. I have to admit I was science geeking out a little bit at the Planet Walk. It begins with a large stainless steel sculpture that represents the Sun, with the four terrestrial planets being relatively close, where Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are within sight of the Sun sculpture. The Gas Giants through Pluto’s distances are measured in miles, with Pluto’s distance, at 3.67 Billion miles, being 4.7 miles from the “Sun.” Another interesting feature of the B&A Trail is it’s part of the East Coast Greenway, the series of bike and walking trails that connects 15 states over 3,000 miles, from Maine to Key West, Florida. Another one of the railtrails we frequent, seven miles of the NCR Trail, from Monkton to Cockeysville, MD is also part of the East Coast Greenway.
My favorite season for biking is upon us, and with the coming arrival of our granddaughter late September or early October we should be able to make at least one, if not two more trips to Western Maryland. We briefly talked about taking the bikes to Meyersdale, PA on the GAP and riding to points west we haven’t seen yet. We’ll take Oli’s tricycle with us next time out, and hopefully he’ll get more of a chance to take the Roadster Trike on a proper maiden voyage at the Frostburg Depot/GAP Trailhead to usher in our next generation of Schwinners.
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.