Back in the spring of 1991, Consumer Reports had an article on bikes and their "best buy" was a Schwinn CrissCross hybrid bike, which was featured on the cover. At this time I was 35 years old, pretty much past my "serious" partying years, and ready to re-new my acquaintance with bicycling. I always had a cycling jones as a kid. My older brother and sister each had one bike in their younger years. I'm not sure, but they were probably 2nd hand. The great thing about growing up in a small town in the 60's was how we stored our bikes in the summer: in the front yard! Either lying down in the grass or leaning up against a tree, that's where they were kept until winter, when dad would put them up in the single car garage. Anyhow, I was the youngest and yes, I would be the spoiled one. My first bike was a 20" red model from Coast-to-Coast Hardware, it may have been a Huffy. Next, was a 3 speed "English Racer" Columbia with a twist shift rear hub, made by some company called Shimano. It had problems after a few years, and wouldn't shift. I still remember my dad writing a letter to Columbia bicycles, explaining how his son had convinced him to buy a bicycle that no body could repair! He received all the parts and this tiny diagram of how to repair it. I barely remember, but there were little ball bearings and some springs, but, he got it fixed. Henry was pretty handy, far more then his son would ever be.
Next up was a "banana bike." This came from Sears mail order. It had a 20", 2" wide "cheater" rear slick tire and a 12" front wheel with extended fork. The front had a spring suspension, and the saddle also had spring suspension. This would be my first full suspension bike. Plus, it had a 12'' sissy bar! The bike was purple with a purple and silver glitter saddle. This would have been 1969, the summer of love, I was 13. Sears was rockin' back then. Of course, so was FWK.
Next up was my first road bike. I must have been 15. Another Sears bike. I think it cost $119 and I got it for my birthday. It had this grreat dual braking system, with levers you could squeeze from the top of the handlebars.... Of course, it was 10 speed, quite the bike in its day. I rode the hell out of that bike, all over town. Funny thing, I don't think I ever rode further then 5 miles at one time.
I truly regret not having any pictures of these bikes. I searched the web to try and find some on the collector sites, but nothing that matched.
All the bikes I had represented one thing for me: personal freedom. I could get on them and get wherever I wanted to go. I still get that rush when I get on a bike at the beginning of a ride. It's the best feeling in the world. ( well, you know, maybe not the best but pretty damn close)
Anyway, back to where I began. My wife and I decided to buy 2 of the Schwinn Criss Cross bikes. I looked in the yellow pages and found the closest dealer was in Plymouth (we lived in Robbinsdale at the time). We had money from our tax return and this was what we were going to spend it on. We went into the bike shop and met a guy named Larry. He was very professional and helpful. This was the beginning of my relationship with Larry Saylor. Those of you that know him agree that he is one of the finest people you'll ever meet. Of course, I didn't know then that some day Larry would own his own bike shop and that I would work for him part time.
The original receipt for the two Schwinn CrissCross bike purchased from Larry at Plymouth Schwinn.
Diane and I rode our CrissCross bikes together several times. And then it happened. The cycling jones took over! I was riding all over, especially around the lakes in uptown. I kept upping my trips, 8 mi, 10 mi, 12 mi, 15 mi, and even 20 miles in one shot! I put 1000 miles on the bike the first year, and 2000 the next. Diane quit riding with me the 2nd year. She told me I was going too fast and too far. She once told some friends, partly in jest, that "I lost him."
The upgraded gel saddle, 17 years later.
The CrissCross was a good drug, but I needed something stronger. I bought my first true road bike, a Trek 1000 for $449. An unheard of sum, and I didn't tell Diane about the cost for a long time. (my first HH points) After all, I already had one bike. So, now that I had a new love, the CrissCross became the forgotten steed, hanging upside down in our garage in Maple Grove. John, our neighbor across the street, expressed some interest in the bike. Asked me what I wanted for it. I said a case of Newcastle. Shortly thereafter, my garage door opener died. John, being handier then me, helped me on a cool November night install a new one for several cold hours. I then told him I'd reduce the price of the bike to a 12 pack of Newcastle. The deal was struck and the CrissCross went across the street for several years. Two weeks ago, John told me he wanted to upgrade. He came into the shop and rode several bikes. He finally settled on a Bianchi Boardwalk hybrid. I wasn't sure what was going to happen to the CrissCross, but in a couple days I found out. John sold the bike to Norm, my next door neighbor.
Norm got into cycling a few years ago, nothing crazy, but, he was pedaling nontheless. Norm retired last week, and wanted to start riding more. So, now Norm has the CrissCross!
Norm, with the 1991 Schwinn CrissCross.
Wondering what happened to Diane's CrissCross? Here it is, hanging in the garage. It hasn't moved in 3 years. I wonder if I could still get a case of Newcastle for it....