My full name is Jeffrey Scott Drilling. Everyone calls me Jeff. No nicknames to speak of... well at least none that I'm willing to tell you about. Currently 39 (almost 40, yikes!), stand about 6'4", weigh in at 185lbs. Currently live in Portland Oregon (7 years now), I'm single with no kids. I was born and raised in the small one stoplight town of Oakfield NY, located in Western New York between Rochester and Buffalo. Growing up there as a kid was a lot of fun because there were many neighbor kids on our street (10 Gibson Street) to play with. Went to Oakfield Alabama Central School and had a graduating class of 95 students so everybody knew each other by name. Not much drugs or drinking. No keeping up with the Jones'. Much of the surrounding area is farmland so basically the heart and soul of the community consisted of "salt of the earth" kinda folk. It was a good place to grow up, many good memories, especially biking memories.
In the Beginning
Biking for me started when I was about 7 years old and was marred by near tragedy. One day my grandfather shows up with brand new bikes for all the kids (I have two older sisters, Teresa and Gretchen). You know, the really cool ones with the banana seats because we're talking the 70's here. Well my sisters already knew how to ride and were trained using training wheels. For me, training wheels weren't an option for some reason. Could be my sister Teresa hid them, looking for an opportunity to torture me in retaliation for supposedly being the spoiled, favored child in the family. So guess who volunteers to teach me how to ride my bike? Right. Teresa.
On the level she teaches me to stay up and peddle my bike w/out assistance. I'm doing pretty good, I'm a quick study. As one travels away from our house towards Main Street there is a bit of a hill. And by Main Street I mean the street that has all the traffic. Well I decide to ride my bike toward Main Street, all wobbly and unsure of myself. As I slowly pick up speed I suddenly realize one skill I wasn't taught. How to use the brakes! Now my bike had the old fashioned "peddle backwards" kinda brake but how to use them was a mystery to me. My sister claims to have yelled "Jeff, peddle backwards, peddle backwards" but as Main Street loomed larger and larger at an ever increasing rate, I must have blocked everything out. Luckily at the last moment before reaching the busy street I bailed off the bike. I don't recall if I was hurt but you can believe me I never again sought my sister's help regarding anything related to biking ever again.
Growing up near Buffalo NY means lots of cold and snow in the winter. But as a kid cold and snow is fun, especially on a bike. With a little courage and the right equipment, it's amazing what a determined kid can do. To be competitive in the winter biking arena you've gotta have knobby tires. Now, they don't do very well on ice but in snow they work wonders. I remember how easy it was to do a "bike burnout" in the snow, a very cool thing for a kid. When I was growing up muscle cars were the fad. So it was a blast pretending to drive a muscle car. And what do muscle cars do? They do burnouts! As an adult it all sounds rather silly to me but at the time it was a good source of entertainment.
Now ice is a completely different animal. It's slippery and hard... well it's ice after all. But with a little practice, it's possible to do amazing things on this type of surface as well. My favorite was the "bike donut". Yes, another favorite fun kid past-time that involves standing up on the cranks, leaning way forward over the handle bars, then peddling as fast as you can while at the same time leaning just a little to the left or right to swing the rear tire of the bike into the opposite direction. With a little more practice, I was able to change donut direction at will as well as very its speed of rotation. Just thinking about it makes me a little dizzy.
I think many kids (mostly boys) have built a ramp of one sort or another and have tried to jump their bikes from point A to point B. The higher and longer the ramp, the greater the distance. It's simple physics, even kids understand that much. One thing that's really important if you're going for the big distance money is to have a strong bike. I firmly believe boy bikes have been designed with that goal firmly in mind, girls just don't ramp bikes so girl bikes are more refined.
As a kid I was into ramping big time. So much so I wrecked my primary bike (boy style of course) during a particularly daring jump. I cracked the frame so it was totalled. But being a big ramping fan in need of my ramping fix, I immediately recruited my sister's bike (yeah, the sister who almost killed me years earlier, I'd like to think I borrowed it without her permission but I'm sad to say I think she gave it to me) and readied it for the task. Unfortunately her bike was a girl style bike and at the time, while understooding the physics behind ramp size and distance, I didn't understand the foolishness of ramping a girl bike. So in the end the jump was performed, it really was quite spectacular I can assure you, and when dust slowly settled... the bike was no more. I managed to bend the frame so badly I couldn't even peddle the bike anymore, the peddles hit the ground, not good. So that was the end of my ramping days, I ran out of bikes to wreck.
Skidding for Distance
I recall many times when my friends and I would bike over to Drake Street to skid for distance. Maple Avenue is special because it's on a hill and the pavement has a lot of tar on it. For some reason some bike tires will squeal just like car tires and the squeal is much louder on tar, especially hot tar that has been baking in the sun. At times we would spend all afternoon just wearing away our tires, I'm sure the neighborhood was completely annoyed. You had to be careful not to wear your tire too thin because you could damage the inner tube. The tell tail sign was seeing threads on the tire but it wasn't uncommon to see a tube aneurysm if you went too far.
There comes a time in every kid's life when the proper time arrives for them to graduate to an adult bike. But for me, I wasn't ready for the transition when my time came due. Why? Because that year in a Sears Christmas Catalog I spyed a really over the top bananna seat bike that had hand brakes, a speedometer, and 5 speed shifter. Yes, a 5 SPEED SHIFTER! How cool is that? It was a Schwinn Fastback. It had a wide back tire (a slick) that said Goodyear on the sidewall in big white letters, just like the racing cars I saw on TV. So that meant only one thing, extreme speed!!! I had to have it. So I begged and begged my folks for it. Told them that was the only gift they needed to give me for Christmas, the important thing was that I got the bike.
At the time I was still young enough to believe in Santa Claus so I waited at the top of the stairs for him to come with my new 5 speed shifter bike. But the night grew late and I grew sleepy so I eventually surrendered and crawled into bed with 5 speed shifter bikes dancing in my head. Morning came and I raced down stairs. Santa did indeed come but he made a HUGE mistake. Near the christmas tree stood 3 identical adult bicycles (one for each of us kids), the ones with the uncool seats that don't allow the rider to lounge like you can a bananna seat. So even though I was somewhat disappointed, it didn't stop me from trying to make my new bike look cool. It was a 3 speed but it was as big as a 10 speed (yes, back then 10 gears was the most you could get) so when I removed the chrome front and back fenders, at least to looked like a 10 speed. I was now riding with the big boys!
The Later Years
Time went by quickly as a kid. I wore out the 3 speed bike and bought a 10 speed Schwinn Continental. It was burgandy and gold. I started to do distance riding on that bike. I remember the first time I biked over 50 miles. It was a hot summer day and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of my dad's beer in the refrigerator. I was only 15 at the time but I had rode my first 50 miler, so celebration was in order, it was Miller Time!
After graduating from high school I attended college and had less time for biking. I rode in a few races but never reclaimed my past passions for the sport until now. After graduating college I bought a Schwinn Touring Bike and had plans to do some touring, but that never happened. Things came up and pushed that dream back, so far back that it wasn't until last year that I bought my latest road bike, a Trek 1000.
Portland Oregon is probably the biking capital of the US. There are so many biking clubs one can join and you always see folks riding their bikes, even in the rain. The city is even forward thinking enough to provide bike paths on many of the roadways. Drivers are pretty curtious as well, I've yet to have any close calls on my bike, knock on wood.
Since last year I've been doing a bit of riding. I actually bought those funny biking shorts so I fit into the culture now except I still refuse to shave my legs, it seems to be more a vanity thing than anything else. Recently in preparation for my trip I bought a Trek 4500 mountain bike. I don't have a clue how to ride it in tough terrain but I've joined a local mountain biking club and hope to get in a few rides before I leave on my trip.
As luck would have it, my next door neighbor Todd just bought a Schwinn Fastback, just like the one I wanted as a little kid. I was finally able to ride the bike of my dreams! So it seems sometimes you just have to be patient, sometimes 30 years patient, in order to get what you want out of life.