“Broken bicycles, old busted chains
With rusted handle bars, out in the rain.”
Broken Bicycles by Tom Waits
When I saw that Michael Gabriele, author of The Golden Age of Bicycles Racing in New Jersey, was signing books at my wonderful local bookstore, I just had to go. I knew that Michael’s book would make the perfect coming-home present for my son Alex, who cycles competitively and is a huge history buff.
Once I met Michael and we started talking, I ended up buying not one, but four, signed copies of his book. I had to get one for my husband David, who first sparked Alex’s love of cycling, and one for Herb, Alex’s terrific coach — you get the idea.
But along with the fun of having the books wrapped and giving them as presents to my two guys and two friends, I also had the pleasure of shooting the breeze a little with Michael. There’s nothing like talking to an enthusiast who’s written a book about a beloved subject — especially one that’s been neglected. Rediscovering lost moments in time is one of the exciting joys of being a writer and I could see how much Michael enjoyed not just writing about cycling in New Jersey, but talking about it.
I learned that bicycle racing was New Jersey’s “national sport” long before Jersey Shore and Snooki came on the scene. I also learned that for a brief period before and after World War I, cyclists from all over the world flocked to New Jersey to compete at the Newark Velodrome: it grossed more than $200,000 in its first season.
To think that Newark, long a symbol of urban distress, once hosted hugely popular cycling competitions reminded me how important it is for us writers to recapture lost moments whenever we can and bring them to life again. Write on!