Pedaling down memory lane
History Center hosts Crandall-Gravestock talk on bicycles of yesteryear

John Crandall (left) lifts a 40-pound, early-20th century bike from Lucas sporting goods while Brian Gravestock discusses its attributes during their talk at the Old Colorado City History Center March 12.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Former Old Colorado City bicycle shop owner John Crandall joined antique bike repair specialist Brian Gravestock in a discussion of old-time two-wheelers March 12 at the Old Colorado City History Center.
       “I have a soft spot for this neighborhood,” commented Crandall, who ran his Old Town Bike Shop in Old Colorado City for 21 years before relocating downtown in 1997. He added that when he first arrived 40 percent of the commercial storefronts were vacant, but he was pleased to see how revitalization efforts in which he himself had participated in the late '70s and early '80s have helped revitalize Old Colorado City into a thriving shopping area.
       Crandall did not discuss his reasons for relocating, but Dave Hughes, who led the revitalization efforts, said half-jokingly afterward that it was because Crandall's downtown customers thought it was too far to ride to Old Town Bike Shop when it was in Old Colorado City.
       For the talk, Gravestock brought several bikes from his collection. One of the big differences in modern bikes is the reduced weight. For example, a bike he brought, which had been made for Colorado Springs' former Lucas sporting goods store in the early 1900s, weighs about 40 pounds. By contrast, a modern, carbon-fiber bike Gravestock brought is 14 pounds.
       Although modern bikes are generally durable, that lightness can result in a certain fragility, such as the frame cracking if the bike hits a curb too hard, Crandall noted.
       In an historical note, Gravestock reported that initially the high-wheeled “ordinary” bike was more popular than the “safety” bike (similar to modern bikes, with wheels the same size). The reason was that on an ordinary, the rider was more eye to eye with horseback riders, which were still common in the early 1900s.
       But bikes in general lost their popularity when motorcars became affordable, being seen as just a children's plaything. Not until recent times have adults begun riding bikes again in earnest, Gravestock said.

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