Walsh: Nostalgia has home at Bicycle Heaven

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My first bike was a maroon-and-cream Schwinn with balloon tires, a push-button horn, a headlight that fit the curve of the front fender and a rear rack ideal for "saddlebags."

It belonged to one of the six sons of Charles Schmidt, a dermatologist who worked in the Medical Arts Building in Oakland. My mother, a registered nurse, worked for him. Schmidt said the son wanted to sell his bike for $10.

I bought it.

Because of its quality and condition, I later reflected that perhaps the asking price had been higher and the good doctor, mom or both had subsidized the purchase. In any event, I'm still grateful.

We lived on Parkview Avenue in Oakland at the time, and I rode that bike up and down the sidewalks of the streets that run off the Boulevard of the Allies. Street-riding meant a loss of bicycling privileges. I used a sidewalk on the nearby Charles Anderson Bridge to reach Schenley Park.

Pedaling that bike generated such an exhilarating sense of freedom. It was magic.

The magic of those years returned in a visit to Bicycle Heaven at Columbus and Preble avenues on the North Side, Craig Morrow's growing tribute to all things bicycle. I first met Craig when he lived in Bellevue and had garages filled with bikes and bike parts.

He wanted a place to display all of it and finally found one last year at a two-story warehouse where there are antique and classic bikes neatly spaced side-by-side on the floor, mounted on the walls and hanging from the ceilings.

And the parts -- more than 100,000 -- are stored on shelves and in buckets and drawers.

"If I don't have a part for a customer, I'll go online and find it for him," Morrow said.

Morrow, 57, who believes he has the world's largest bicycle museum and shop, will be host to a free bike show, swap meet and party, with food, drinks and music beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Bicycle dealers and other vendors will be set up in the parking lot next to the warehouse. It's a rain-or-shine event. Get there early and bring a camera.

Like many visitors to Bicycle Heaven, I wanted to see if Morrow had my first bike in his collection. He wasn't around to ask on my first visit, so I started looking. I found it. It's on the second floor, lined up with other older bikes. It's a bit weathered, but the sight of it still carries a lot of emotion.

Bicycle Heaven is open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Sunday. There is no admission fee, but donations are always welcome.

For more information: www.bicycleheaven.org; 412-716-4956, 412-734-4034; and Marty Levine's story at www.post-gazette.com.

Heroes and Hope

The Third Annual Heroes and Hope Ride, a metric century (62.5 miles) trip to the Flight 93 Memorial and the Quecreek Mine Rescue Site in Somerset County, begins at 8 a.m. Sept. 22.

"The course traverses the final miles of the heroes of Flight 93 and also takes [bicyclists] to the heroic rescue site where nine coal miners were lifted 240 feet to the surface on July 28, 2002," ride organizer Clark Hostetter said.

The $35 registration fee includes drinks and snacks along the route, a complete barbecue chicken meal at the House of Hope farm and a T-shirt while supplies last. Proceeds benefit House of Hope Laurel Highlands, a Christian counseling center for troubled teens and their families.

Information: http://houseofhopelaurelhighlands.org/calendar.htm; 1-814-410-5229.

sportsother - outdoors

Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.


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