My Murray Eliminator satiated my bike lust for a few months, but I soon grew weary of its shortcomings. Most notably, weighing around 50 pounds, its weight didn't make for a fast, easily maneuverable BMX bike. Not that it was a BMX bike to begin with. It was a regular old kids bike that was modified to be more in the BMX vein.
So, I continued to want for a "real" BMX bike. Flipping through the pages of BMX Action magazine, my eyes feasted on numerous exotic brands of bicycles. Living in South Dakota, however, I rarely ever got to personally see most of these rare bikes. My weekly trips to the neighborhood bike shop narrowed down my selection considerably. In the BMX genre, this LBS (local bike shop) primarily carried Mongoose, Redline and Cycle Pro bikes. They did have one weird BMX bike of the Azuki brand. It sat off by its lonely self and never sold during the time I was frequenting the shop.
Owning a Redline bike would have been a dream come true. They were up with the best of the best, quality-wise. The price, however, was in the stratosphere for a 6th grade boy.
Next down the line was Mongoose. These bikes were really popular at this time, which was somewhat of a turn-off for me as I've always had a tendency to swim a bit upstream. Mongoose bikes often came with a chromed frame, which didn't appeal to me. Finally, their prices were lower than Redline's but still far more than I could hope to afford.
Lastly, we had the lowly Cycle Pro brand. Cycle Pro made some decent accessories. Their "snake belly" BMX tires and "shotgun" seats were in high demand. They also marketed, less successfully, entire bicycles. Their entry level BMX bike was called the "Macho." It was a reasonably well-built, if not slightly heavy BMX bike. The price was around $130 if I remember correctly.
Despite the bike name conjuring up bad Village People memories, I realized that this model bike was the only one realistically within my price range. I began saving my paper route money.
Around this time period, my parents changed babysitters. This probably had something to do with an incident in which my brother and I sawed the legs off of a bench while under the watchful eye of the previous sitter. We were of the age where we didn't need a "sitter" so much as someone to lay down the law before we successfully burned down the house.
A friend of the family had a son named Peter who was only two years older than I. Peter, unlike me, was responsible. So they recruited him to watch my brother and me a few times. The first time Peter came to watch us, he arrived on a red BMX bike that caught my attention. It had been de-badged (which is a fancy way of saying "had the stickers removed"), so the brand and model wasn't immediately apparent.
I asked Peter about it, and he said it was a Cycle Pro Macho. It had been upgraded with Redline v-bars and a Redline fork. He also mentioned that it was for sale, and my interest was piqued even further.
Note that this picture is not one of the actual bike I owned; I scabbed this one off the internet. My bike was identical, except for the fact that it was red. This gives you a good idea of what it looked like, though. Oh, and mine had the chain properly adjusted.
Peter let me ride it around the block. The first thing I noticed is that it was about 10 pounds lighter than my current bike. This still put it in the 40 pound range, which is quite heavy. But compared to the tank that I normally rode, this bike was a feather. The other thing I noticed was how touchy the brakes were. It had a coaster brake, and it didn't take much force to lock up the brakes.
The bike also had a hand brake on the rear wheel. Peter explained that he had been planning on putting different rims on the bike, and these new rims would incorporate a freewheel, so that's why there was a hand brake. At the moment it just provided extra unnecessary stopping power to the already touchy coaster brake.
Peter wanted $110 for the bike. This was not much less than what a new one cost, but his bike had the upgraded handlebar and fork. As much as I liked the upgrades, this price was more than I could afford. I haggled with him some and we agreed on a price of $75, with the condition that he would keep the upgraded parts and put the original handlebar and fork back on the bike.
The next hurdle was to convince my father that I should be allowed to drain my savings account to purchase this bike. I remember him being reluctant, but I don't remember the specific reason why. I'm guessing it had something with the fact that purchasing the bike would use up every last dollar in my piggy bank. Eventually he relented.
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 1980, and we arranged to settle the transaction on Friday morning. My father was going to take me to the bank, then over to Peter's house to pick up the bike. I couldn't wait.
On Thursday afternoon after we had eaten a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat (thanks Arlo), I started to feel funny. I put my hand down the back of my shirt and felt bumps. I took off my shirt and inspected myself to discover I was covered in little red dots. Chicken pox! The last thing I wanted was for anything to interrupt my morning plans.
For the rest of the day whenever possible I sequestered myself in my room. The spots had not yet migrated off of my torso, so when I did make an appearance I made sure to always have my shirt on so it wasn't immediately obvious I was afflicted.
Friday morning arrived. I awoke and inspected myself. No miracle of healing had happened overnight; I was covered in spots, and starting to feel kind of bad. Not bad enough to stop me from wanting to go purchase this bike though! The pox were onto my neck, but weren't overly obvious yet. And my face was still clear.
As planned, my father and I went to the bank and drained my savings account. I remember subtracting the $75 from my little red bank book, and vibrating with excitement. $75 was a kingly sum to a boy my age, and it felt funny to hold that much cash in my hands.
We drove over to Peter's house which was only four blocks from the bank. Peter was the only one home. I remember that he had his record player cranked up, and it was the first time I'd ever heard the song "Jocko Homo" from the band Devo. Years later I would discover that if you're suffering from a migraine, this is the absolute worst song to which one can choose to listen.
My father gave the bike a visual once-over, and then asked me if I was sure I wanted to spend all that money on this bike. I handed Peter the cash without hesitation.
Peter lived about a mile from my house, so my dad said he'd just meet me at home and I could ride the new bike. Of course, with a brand new bike there was no way I was taking the direct route home! This was a glorious time to be a child, when one could disappear for a few hours and no parent would worry. Now days if a child pulled that stunt they'd have their picture plastered on the Wal-Mart bulletin board before they came home for lunch.
I decided to ride by my best friend Shawn's house and show him my new treasure. I think I hopped every curb, driveway and bump on the way. This bike rode like a dream compared to my old Murray.
When I arrived at Shawn's house, I asked him if he wanted to go ride bikes. Never mind that that temp was bitter cold that morning, and seemed to be getting colder as the day progressed.
As it turned out, his mother had closed on their new house that morning, and they were going to be moving to the other side of town. They were going to take a few things over and see the new house. He invited me to come along, but I had a brand new bike! Why would I want to go do something that didn't involve my new bike?
It's interesting how aging changes your perspective on things. Now I could easily see that I would always have my bike to ride, but I wouldn't always be able to share a life milestone with a friend. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I rode home. After lunch I tooled around the neighborhood a little, but the frigid weather was turning worse, and it was starting to snow. To add insult to injury, my chicken pox were now at the point where I was unable to hide them, and I was really starting to feel awful. I went inside and confessed to my parents that I had chicken pox. They were skeptical until I peeled off my shirt and presented the undeniable evidence that I was afflicted. The bike was placed in the garage, I was sent immediately to bed, and the way I was feeling I didn't protest much.
So there I lay with a new bike in the garage, snow starting to accumulate and me being too sick to ride even if the weather would allow. The best part about chicken pox was the fact that my dad took over my paper route for the next week, until I was well enough to resume it myself.
My case of chicken pox was quite mild as compared to my brother's. He contracted it shortly after I recovered, and it nearly did him in. I remember him being quite, quite sick with a very high fever.
As it turned out, this snow was the first of many that winter and I really didn't ride my new bike too often until spring. Once the snow melted, however, I was on the bike every chance I got.
She was my pride and joy. No matter how high the jump, how hard the landing or how tight the corner she never let me down. I don't recall ever having a single mechanical issue the whole time I owned that bike.
The Sioux Falls bike trail system was in its infancy. It did not yet go completely around the town, and was only partially paved. My brother and I spent the summer riding the trails and exploring the city. We would pick up the trail on the west side of town, by Dennis The Menace park (RIP), ride south following the river all the way to the east side by Drake Springs pool where the trail would end. We would then turn around and ride it the other way back home.
Oakley 3 grips had just been introduced. These were ergonomic, form fitting grips that looked quite futuristic compared to the traditional grips that most bike were wearing. For my birthday that summer, I purchased myself a pair and installed them on my bike. I got a lot of comments about how strange they looked, but they were so comfortable that I didn't care. About a year later other companies would clone the Oakley grips and they started showing up on every new BMX bike, including the bargain bin Huffys.
I had an interest in competitive racing, so I purchased a number plate and some stick on decals with which I decorated the front. I selected number 21, which happened to be my jersey number when I played grade school basketball. I was a better bike racer than basketball player (which isn't saying much!)
That Cycle Pro carried me into the first semester of 7th grade, when after less than a year of ownership had elapsed, it was taken from me one gloomy October night.
My brother and I had recently received our allowances and had a hankering to play some video games. We told our mother we were going down to Alick's, which was a corner drug store about six blocks from our house. Instead, we rode a mile or so over to Granny's arcade, where we proceeded to blow our allowance money for the week.
With our pockets empty and the sky beginning to grow dark, we decided it was time to head home. We walked out the door of the arcade and looked at the bike rack. My brother's bike was still there, but my bike was gone. All that remained was a blue bike lock that had been forced apart and now lay on the ground next to the empty spot on the bike rack. I stared in dazed disbelief.
My first hope was that somebody had joyridden it around the parking lot, and then discarded it nearby. We searched the block and the surrounding area, but it was gone. Whoever took it apparently intended to keep it.
I was heartbroken. My pride and joy had been ripped from me. I slowly walked home with an empty feeling inside.
To make matters worse, we weren't supposed to be at Granny's arcade. To my parent's knowledge, we were down at Alick's. If I were to go home and fess up the real location where my bike had been swiped, I would have been in huge trouble, along with my brother. So when we got home we had to lie about where we were when the bike was stolen.
My mother called the police who came and made a report on the stolen bike. Of course I also had to lie to the cop about where I was when the incident occurred. That's the thing about lies: you rarely can tell just one. You have to create more and more to cover up the previous lies.
By the way, my parents to this day never found out we were actually at Granny's that night. So mom and dad, if you're reading this, surprise!
I drew a picture of the bike to show the cop, but he frankly wasn't that interested. In his world, this was a very minor incident and he had more important things to do. In my world, however, this was a capital offense and the perpetrator needed to be tarred and feathered in a public display. When the officer didn't seem to care, it just drove the knife deeper into my heart. We got the typical "we'll keep our eyes open" response (which in reality is probably all the police could have done) and the officer left.
The next day after school, my dad offered to drive me around the neighborhood to look for the bike. Odds were that the thief was a neighborhood kid versus a professional crook. Therefore it stood to reason that the bike very likely was getting ridden around or would be parked outside of a house.
Unfortunately because of my lie, my father focused his search efforts in the blocks surrounding Alick's store, and not around Granny's arcade which was about a mile away. I quietly rode along realizing the futility of the search. Whenever possible I would suggest that we try another block to the east (in the direction of the arcade) without making it completely obvious that I was withholding evidence.
It's funny how you can hear a song at a particular moment in your life, and then those memories become attached to the music. Years later you can hear the song and your brain suddenly goes back to that point in time. As we slowly drove around looking for the bike, the song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Wings came on the radio. The overcast mood of the song perfectly matched my own overcast mood.
Unsuccessful in our search, we headed home for supper.
I was now left without any transportation. Edison Jr. High was about a mile from my house. I frequently walked the distance, but it was a lot faster to ride.
I dug my dad's old bike out of the back of garage, blew off the cobwebs and proceeded to ride it to school. It was a vintage three-speed he owned in high school, the brand of which I no longer remember. It had fenders, a rear rack and (gasp) a faux gas tank. For a 7th grader in 1981, this bike from the 1950's was tragically uncool. But it beat walking. Being a geared bike with a freewheel, I also learned how to shift and use hand brakes during this time period.
A few weeks later, I believe I spotted my Cycle Pro. An older kid rode by on the exact same bike as mine, only it had been obviously painted black with a can of spray paint. This kid was twice my size and was known as being pretty rough around the edges. Frankly I didn't have the kahunas to confront him about it. I decided the loss of a bike was better than the loss of teeth and I let him go. I never saw the bike again. To this day I am convinced that he was riding my bike.
As it turned out, this was the last BMX bike I was to ever own. This wasn't so much by choice as it was just the way things worked out. As of the time of this writing, I have owned nine bikes during my lifetime. This Cycle Pro Macho was the one I loved the most. If our paths ever cross some day, I will buy it back in a heartbeat.
This page last updated on 07/11/2018