Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

21 September 2017

Against The Wind, Into A Passion

In 1972 or thereabouts, he pedaled from Buffalo, New York to Erie, Pennsylvania.  "My butt has never been the same since then, honest to God," he says.

He doesn't mention what saddle he rode.  My guess is that it was broken-down, rather than broken-in.

More than likely, it's the saddle that came with the bike when he bought it. That is what most people ride, at least until they realize they can replace seats that are uncomfortable for them.  In this case, however, it may not have been possible for the Buffalo-to-Erie cyclist to swap out his bum-buster.

You see, that saddle came on a Columbia bicycle--but not one you might have ridden when you were a kid (or, perhaps, are still riding now!).  Rather, it's one of the Columbias made by Albert Pope's company in 1886.

Jim Sandoro bought that bike in 1970 at a flea market just outside of Cleveland.  A couple of years later, he took his fateful ride. "Like idiots, we didn't think about the wind," he recalls.  "In the old days, they used to pedal from Erie to Buffalo"--in the direction opposite from the one Sandoro rode--"because they knew better."  His ride into the wind, he says, took "16 grueling hours."

Jim Sandoro with a Maid of the Mist bicycle from his collection


Since I have never ridden a high-wheeler, I can only imagine what that ride was like.  The bike, however, helped to form a collection of vintage bicycles and rare bike memorabilia Sandoro and his wife, Mary Ann, have amassed over the past half-century.   They have concentrated their efforts on bikes and related items made from the 1860s through the 1920s, especially models related to their native Western New York State.

On Saturday, that collection will be displayed for the public for the first time in the Buffalo Transportation/ Pierce-Arrow Museum, which they founded and built.  The museum has been devoted mainly to automobiles and, more recently, the Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station.  But now the Sandoro's collection, which has been augmented by bikes they purchased from the former Pealing History Museum in nearby Orchard Park, will take a prominent place in their museum.

And, if you plan to ride there, you might want to pay attention to the wind!


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