My answers from the parallel thread in C&V:
Does anyone have any stories or memories from the 1970 bike boom? If you could answer any of these questions I'd love to hear your ideas.
I started cycling with the local AYH club in about 1971 at age 12. By 13 I was leading rides. Started racing in '73 at age 14.
Q: What do you believe attracted people to bikes in the 1970s?
A: On the heels of the 60s, and the Ecology movement, bikes were somewhat counterculture and in keeping with the times. Also it was a fad.
Q: Was cycling, in the 1970s, a individualistic type of sport? Or was it a sport that people built communities around?
A: The latter. Locally AYH and FBCI racing clubs had closely knit communities and did all sorts of activities together, including volunteering. Large weekend centuries and double centuries were popular, as is still true today.
Q: Were the majority of cyclists in the 1970s riding to race? Or just for the enjoyment of getting out on a bike?
A: No. Vast majority were "club" riders, who did group rides that even then were rated A, B, and C. The A group was competative, like today, and included some racers. The rest were out to have fun. They were sometimes referred to as "tourists."
Q. Do you think the introduction of the 10-speed derailer peaked people's interest in biking?
A: No, they had been around a long time before the bioke boom of the 70s.
Q: Were people buying bikes in the 1970s buying bikes for the first time? Or were they upgrading to something better?
A: I don't quite understand what you're asking here. Many people bought 10-speeds for the first time, ranging from crappy Huffys to Colnagos. Some people upgraded, and some bought multiple bikes.
Q: Was the bike boom just a fad?
A: It was more than a fad, but fad was a large part of it. Everyone wanted a 10-speed whether they planned to ride it or not. That's why there're so many well-preserved 70s bikes--many were barely ridden. But the bike boom was also a movement that affected changes cycling in America which are still felt today.
Q: Do you have any stories about your experiences racing in the 1970s?
A: Yes, but I'd have to kill you if I told. Racing then was an attempt to copy racing in Europe. My first big road race when I was 14 had so many entries that they started it in two "heats." I broke away and was way ahead in the first heat, but as I approached the finish line the County Sherif Deputy pulled out and started the second heat right in front of me. I had to brake hard and slow down. Someone from the second heat beat me by 1/10 of a second. So I came in second.
Q: Was cycling an "elitist" sport in the 70s?
A: Not at all. A $350 high end bike was within the means of any high school kid who worked and saved his money. And it was counterculture back then.
Q: Do you think people were attracted to cycling in the 70s as a form of escapism from the pressures of society?
A: Not sure how to answer this. Are all avocations escapist?
Q: What prompted your interest in bikes?
A: I grew up with stories about the local double century--TOSRV, which started in the 60s. It sounded like a great adventure. Also I lusted for the Schwinn Paramount my neighbor had.
Q: What prompted your interest in competitive cycling?
A: I liked riding fast, people encouraged me to try it, and I could be my own coach (following the CONI Manual).