Cycling has been a big part of my life since I was about 6 years old when I took my first 2-wheeled ride down a grassy slope of a neighbors house on a blue Schwinn Bantam (or was it a Pixie?). I soon graduated to a blue Schwinn Stingray which became my main source of entertainment (jumping ramps, exploring our neighborhood), and trusted friend when I was upset (a quick ride thru the woods was a great way to deal w/ frustrations). The Stingray was also my work mule, helping me haul Lansing State Journals around to my customers day after day and freedom machine allowing me to visit friends who lived too far away.
Jumping to my first "real" bike (had a Schwinn Varsity and Continental as well), a 70's vintage Dawes Super Galaxy with sew-up racing wheels, this machine (with touring wheels) took me about 1500 miles in a month during my 16th summer thru upper Michigan & down thru Wisconsin with my older brother & best friend. After building up some serious leg muscles on our tour we decided to try racing and the Dawes served me well helping me win a number of citizen-class races, my favorite of which was the Mackinac Island Bicycle Relay.
During those high school days my best friend Craig Wilkinson and I bought out the remaining tools and parts from Weathervane, an E. Lansing ski & bike shop that decided to get out of bikes. We then bought 100 bikes at one of the MSU Salvage auctions and launched our own used bike shop in my parent's basement. As word got out about our used bikes we eventually started doing repairs for lots of family and friends. I went on to work at Gene's Raleigh in E. Lansing, then Denny's Schwinn on Grand River in E. Lansing as a mechanic. Spent my 18th summer on Mackinac Island working for the Island Schwinn bike rental shop; that was my favorite summer job!
I then started cycling to school, about 11 miles one way (I went to a private school for high school); I'd have soccer practice and then ride home too which was quite a challenge for the muscles! An opportunity to go work/ study in Japan when I was 19 landed me right next-door to a professional velodrome where "keirin" racers regularly trained. Despite the huge language gap I managed to get on a loaned track bike and started working out w/ the pros on and off the track. One of the hard-core training methods of the Japns. pros is to ride the mountains on track bikes (single-speed, no freewheels, but equipped w/ brakes), geared slightly down for the road, without standing up in the saddle! This took quite a bit of brute strength and determination to not be bested to master, but after a few outings I was able to keep up with them and eventually beat them to the top of the switchbacks of the nearby mountains. Raced a few times there in Japan (not on the track unfortunately; you had to be a Japanese citizen among several other things to become a pro) and toured extensively. Many of my in-laws in Japan (yes, I eventually married a Japns. sister of one of the pros I worked out with) are/ were pro cyclists on the track (Keirin); my father-in-law was the Natl. Keirin Champion in 1961 and retired in 1985 w/ a total of almost 900 victories on the track which ranks him No. 7 for career victories in Japan.
I've also guided a few bike tours, 2 in the Japan Alps for American groups (hot-spring touring; what a way to end a day of riding in the mountains!) and 1 for a Japns. group in the Canadian Rockies. I'm dying to tour again, but 3 young kids and their needs/ wants takes priority for a few more years I guess!
My commute takes me up and down Grand River Ave. which is one of the busiest roads in the whole area with very little if any paved shoulders or space for a bike on road, so I commute 8 months out of the year and XC ski the winter months for the fun of it.
• State News article/ interview with Tim (4/9/08) http://www.statenews.com/index.php/article/2008/04/cyclists_passion_provides_ever-changing_career