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My grandfather was a cyclist.

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My grandfather was a cyclist.

Old 08-04-15, 10:55 AM
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My grandfather was a cyclist.

Much more so than I could ever hope to be. Born in 1915 in Chicago Illinois, Bob Challenger was on a bike practically by the time he could walk. He rode with a group in Chicago called the Edison Park Wheelmen, with the likes of Emil and Oscar Wastyn, Bill Jacoby, and Torchy Peden. My grandfather's bike was one of Wastyn's "Six Day Specials," which is from what I understand the father of the original Schwinn Paramount. But pictures work better in this instance. This series takes place (as best as I can ascertain) between 1935 and 1938, including many on the Humboldt Park Bicycle Track.











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Old 08-04-15, 10:56 AM
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Some time later, he went where most men went-- but that didn't keep him off the bike. After his time in North Africa, he bought a bike somewhere around Salerno and rode through much of Italy, until his division was back on the boats to prepare for Normandy. I once asked, what happened to the bike? "I just leaned it against a wall and never saw it again." Shortly before the Normandy landing, he spent 3 weeks in England, and did the same thing-- bought a bike, and rode the length of the UK, from John 'o Groats to Lands End. Same as Italy, just parked the bike, got in the landing craft, and invaded France. You know, like they used to do.








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Old 08-04-15, 10:57 AM
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And from what I've read here and there on the internet, those Wastyn bikes were built to last-- and my grandfather's would be no exception. The most recent pics I could find, him riding the Death Valley Century in 1988, and the bike in it's "final form" some time in 1992. The same damn bike. Rode it for over 60 years. He rode 2 days before he died in 1996. We should all be so lucky.








I have no idea what ever happened to the bike. I was a kid who rode a bike now and then (and by kid I mean in my early 20s) and didn't really get on a bike just to ride until I got into my 40s, so I didn't know to appreciate it at the time. I did get his photo album, and I guess some of his cycling spirit, so that's pretty cool.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:01 AM
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A true cyclist and hard man!

That is really cool, thanks for posting.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:02 AM
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Greatest generation indeed. Thank you for sharing the wonderful material.

" I once asked, what happened to the bike? "I just leaned it against a wall and never saw it again." Shortly before the Normandy landing, he spent 3 weeks in England, and did the same thing-- bought a bike, and rode the length of the UK, from John 'o Groats to Lands End. Same as Italy, just parked the bike, got in the landing craft, and invaded France. You know, like they used to do."

Standing ovation.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:03 AM
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Damn he must have been strong. What izzat a 60T chainwheel???

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:06 AM
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Thanks for sharing the photos. I notice some of the cyclists are only wearing one glove. Can anyone shed some light on this. My googling skills have resulted in no info.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:06 AM
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60 years on a track bike from the 1930s.

Holy cow is that impressive. Thanks for sharing the pictures and story! Based on the last picture it seems he was both a competent rider as well as a clever mechanic.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:09 AM
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I think one of the pics in the album has it marked as a 59T. I didn't get brakes or a cassette until sometime in the early '80s.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by tg16 View Post
Thanks for sharing the photos. I notice some of the cyclists are only wearing one glove. Can anyone shed some light on this. My googling skills have resulted in no info.

That's the "brakes." Sometimes he would have to reach down and rub the front tire right behind the headtube to bleed off speed. With that pie tin of a front ring, I imagine it was tough to generate enough leg-torque to slow down quickly when moving at track velocities.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:19 AM
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One of the coolest posts I've ever seen here...great bike photos, a great story about a guy who sounds awesome.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:23 AM
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Really cool. Thanks for posting.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:25 AM
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Great post! Thanks for sharing Bob Challenger's story and photos. Your grandfather sounds like one heckuva guy.

I have a 1940 Wastyn built track Paramount, and it's a special bike.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:27 AM
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Fantastic! Thanks for sharing these incredible photos and memories!
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Old 08-04-15, 11:32 AM
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Nice bunch of photos. Thank you for sharing!


Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
Great post! Thanks for sharing Bob Challenger's story and photos. Your grandfather sounds like one heckuva guy.

I have a 1940 Wastyn built track Paramount, and it's a special bike.
Could you share a photo? I think that's the year my father had. He bought it up in Buffalo for $75.

Last edited by satbuilder; 08-04-15 at 11:38 AM. Reason: .
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Old 08-04-15, 11:43 AM
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This is my Father and his '37/'38 Paramount. I have nothing like the photo documentary that you have (but I do have the bike!), and some film he did in front of his Brother-in-Law's bike shop circa 1938. I did put it up on Utube, if someone knows how to find it, LOL.

He used to talk about riding a roller set-up like you show, when 6-day races were being held in Boston's old Boston Garden. The were set up on the train platforms to serve as advertising for the event.

Thank you for posting those photos!
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Old 08-04-15, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by satbuilder View Post
Could you share a photo? I think that's the year my father had. He bought it up in Buffalo for $75.
It's a 1940 frameset with original wheel hubs, but later vintage Campy crank and seatpost, and new manufacture LDG stem. Serial number is A853.

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Old 08-04-15, 11:49 AM
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Great post and pictures !!
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Old 08-04-15, 11:50 AM
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guy right behind your grandfather in the first pic with the handlebars turned up. dude, he rides down my street everyday!!!

great shots
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Old 08-04-15, 11:52 AM
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Great post!
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Old 08-04-15, 12:08 PM
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Outstanding post. my candidate for post of the year....
Wonder if your grandfather knew Ted Ernst who posts on classic Rendezvous and still runs a shop in California (and is still riding).

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Old 08-04-15, 12:13 PM
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Amazing story. Chapeau.
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Old 08-04-15, 12:14 PM
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Terrific read and pic's! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-04-15, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
It's a 1940 frameset with original wheel hubs, but later vintage Campy crank and seatpost, and new manufacture LDG stem. Serial number is A853.

That's beautiful. Thanks!
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Old 08-04-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post

Man - that's some gearing you'd never want to cross-chain that puppy.
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