The guys that did the crazy jumps and tricks were gods, risking life and limb, and not my thing but I loved reading about it and looking at their bikes. The best was RL Osborn, who I met in 1985 at a bike show and he asked me to hold his bike while he went and got me a photo and signed it for me. My hero. Him and his dad were the tip of the spear. Not participating in the sport left me with a few perfectly mint copies of their low print-run, short-lived Freestylin’ Magazine, considered the bible of the sport.
These days, I rip across the city on hot summer days and still love exploring.
The most bad-ass bike on the planet is without a question, hands-down, the PK Ripper. The bike represents the first time in my life that I saw something needlessly top-of-the-line and had to have it anyway. I ordered mine from a bike store in Mississauga and on the day I picked it up, there was a crowd of kids checking it out. The shape and frame structure seemed to prioritize function over form, with the chunky, unique welding around the joins gave it a presence, like it was there to take anything you could give it.
I, on the other hand, only offered it an approach more on the Disney side than the kind of abuse it deserved, but I rather enjoyed using it as an urban bike, between street and mountain. Arai Racing rims, Bullseye hubs, Profile cranks, Hutch pedals and stacked with the rare cammo padding, it was light and fast and strong and I loved it. I raced it and won many and have the trophies to show for it. Half the joy of owning the bike was riding to the track, which when I lived in Meadowvale, was in Milton. I rode through the beautiful bike baths all the way up to Winston Churchill (the edge of the countryside in 1985) and then the country roads out to Derry and the track.
As my only bike, and rightfully so, I used it for every conceivable use of travel, and getting to the tracks made me realize that I had some endurance and that I enjoyed discovering new places on bike. It enabled me to get to lots of new and interesting places in a relatively short amount of time and was the precursor to even longer journeys by motorcycle or car later in life. One of the strangest spur-of-the-moment journeys was from my home in Bellefountain, near Caledon, to my dad’s house in Toronto at Danforth and Chester.