Losing My Religion

Believing in something is natural and necessary, like breathing, eating or having sex. Faith, it might be said, is like oxygen, octopus salad or orgasms for the soul. I've always had my doubts about things like Santa and Jesus, but nothing has been able to convince me that the Orange Krate I got for Christmas in 1973, nor any of the hundred other stunt bikes, road bikes, track bikes, beach cruisers and MTB's I've designed, bought, built, broken and ridden have been anything less than chariots of the gods. My bicycle, I've always believed, would take me to a better place than I was at, and someday to a place I couldn't dream of.

When I moved to California in 1982, that dream came true. To mark the milestone, I parked my racer and jumped on a freestyle machine. Ramps and skateparks dotted the SoCal landscape like Creepers and Cavarricci jeans in those days, and I hid in the long shadows of some big players in that scene. When I wasn't judging King of the Skatepark contests in Upland or Del Mar, I was riding vert with Mike Buff and Eddie Fiola. Street riding ignited quickly off competitive freestyle's dwindling flame, and guys like Craig Grasso, Eddie Roman and Pete Augustin showed me and the rest of the world that one man's ditch could be another man's playground.

Like racing and ramp riding before it, street riding progressed more rapidly than my aging and desk-bound bones could handle, and I parked my 20-inch bike forever in 1992. Eighteen years of hard-core pedaling between school and myriad part-time jobs at bike shops, plastic factories and fast-food restaurants had given me the experience I needed to try something new, so I took my severance pay and a 5,000-dollar loan from my grandmother and launched an advertising agency. My clients consisted of the Chinese entrepreneurs I'd befriended during my days as product designer at Mongoose. While none of my early work would ever win any awards, my services were sufficient to grow my clients' business and to put a roof over my head. Two graphic designers helped me hone my marketing chops immeasurably in those days, and one of them became my business partner and best friend. We have been thinking and dreaming and doing things together ever since.

Business was booming between '99 and 2003, and the fruits of our labor sought refuge around my 40-year-old midsection. Elective facial reconstruction gave my extreme makeover a surgically-induced head start, so to shed the remaining 40 pounds of corporate corpulence I made my second pact with the only spiritual leader I've ever believed in, my bicycle. Aggressive diet and clean living contributed to my metamorphosis, and my alligator mouth and amateur bike geek body attracted a cadre of MILF's, GILF's and honey girls the likes of which I'd never experienced. The dicking I was doing may have been the best of times, but the worst of times were yet to come…

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