by Jim Twomey
Prior to the Spring Invasion of Spidermonkeys in Henderson, NV, I was asked to share some background with the group. As some of you know, I own and help run JT’s Bicycle. May 1st, we will be here 7 years.
But to back up some… I grew up in New Jersey and one my favorite things to do was to go riding with my friends. We would ride until we were lost and then try to find our way home. Still a technique I enjoy. Flash forward, I graduated from college in NJ and was supposed to teach high school English. I found that I liked teaching the students, but I couldn’t relate to the teachers (they were mostly much older than myself). So I proceeded to fall into many jobs, too many to list. OK I’ll list the major ones: school bus driver, taxi dispatcher, real estate salesman, studio photographer, x-ray equipment repairman, Marketing Director for a multi-national, Owner of an x-ray equipment & service company in New England, Professor teaching Small Business courses at Gainesville City College in Florida (along the way I had gotten my MBA), Program Manager for a Bio Tech Company (making parts from cadavers), RV salesman, District Manager for a major commercial air conditioning manufacturer and finally opened the bike shop I had day dreamed about for about 30 years. The list is in correct chronological order. The important part of my history that I haven’t touched upon is Kathi Twomey. My wife and I have been married 35 years counting the two times we have been married to each other (4 year hiatus about 15 years ago). We have one daughter, one son-in-law and two grandchildren, all living in Las Vegas and a big part of our life.
My biking experience began with a trick knee cap that dislocated during almost any kind of sporting activity and it even dislocated once while stepping out of the car. My sports surgeon recommended that I take up cycling to alleviate the pain in my knee. I went that day to my local bike shop and bought a bike. I was in my mid- thirties and overweight and out of shape. Needless to say it was work at first, but like millions of others, I was hooked. I started riding out of a bike shop called Fat Dog Pro Cycle in MA. The owner was pretty “picky”. You had to clean your bike before you brought it in for a tune-up. As a former racer, he taught me a lot about riding. I started riding with a group in MA called MAC, short for Mad About Cycling. Before I moved from MA to Florida, I spent two years as the president of MAC. In Gainesville I rode with a very large and active club. Most weekend rides had 100+ riders. Outside Gainesville it was all tree farms and horse farms (no traffic). There was also some great single track along the Swanee River.
When my wife and I moved to Henderson from Florida, we took six months to travel around the U.S and western Canada. We had a full size van with two road bikes and two mtb’s in back. We pulled a travel trailer behind the van and every town we stopped at we would visit the local bike shop. Our standard question was “what’s good riding, mountain bike or road”. I can say without any qualifications that this was the best 6 months of my life. My wife would agree.
One of my favorite things to do is going on bike vacations. I have done about a dozen of these all over the U.S. and Canada. My last one was Ragbrai, the oldest and biggest of them all. Two years ago I rode with a group from Henderson called Team Durkin. We rode across Iowa along with 20,000 other cyclists. One of my favorites (not too far from Chicago) was the Tour of Indiana.
The short history of the Spidermonkey training camps in Las Vegas begins with Dean and his dad coming to JT’s Bicycle about 4 years ago. Dean and I discussed the possibility of several Spidermonkeys coming to Henderson to do some spring training. I had recently begun renting bikes so it looked like a good fit. Dean asked me if there was anyone that could lead some local rides since the group would be unfamiliar with the area. I volunteered to act as guide, although it might be guiding from the back of the pack. I believe the first year there were 7 people (not exactly sure). Fortunately, we had very good weather and the rides turned out well. Last year we had 16 rentals and 1 or 2 people brought their own bike. One day was windy and cold and all the locals were crying about the weather, but it was no big deal for the Spidermonkeys. Our last day, we rode the Red Rock Loop and the weather cooperated for a nice send-off ride. This year we have 18 rentals so far from the Spidermonkeys and I’m not sure if anyone is bringing their bike. I will be adding a few Bianchi bikes to my rental fleet and probably 4 or 5 of the Spidermonkeys will be riding brand new 2013 Bianchi bikes when they are out here. I will post the Spidermonkey Rides on the Green Valley Cyclists club calendar and we will probably have a group of riders from the club join in. I know the locals that rode last year and the year before enjoyed the rides. Personally, I have ridden with many different groups, but I think the Spidermonkeys are some of the nicest of all time.
The City of Henderson is working towards the designation of “Bike Friendly Community” from the League of American Wheelmen. The City Manager bought a bike from me and he commutes to work every day. The city has built both great paved paths and dirt trails. On March 9th there is a grand opening of a dirt trail called the McCullough Hills Trail. It starts just up the hill from our shop (about 4 blocks) and it is about 7 ½ miles in one direction. It was built by the City of Henderson and has a rest stop about halfway out. It is not technical but some good climbing. They will be building single track off the main trail in the future. We think that this area will become a very popular mtb area in the next few years.
I guess that’s about all I can think of to share. I’ve got my Spidermonkey jerseys ready to go and I’m hoping that you guys and gals haven’t had much chance to ride over the winter. I can always sweep.