Forty & Fabulous!

Bob Krumm was the first president of Different Spokes, which he helped found in 1982. In 1985 he relocated to New York to begin a new job and penned this farewell message to the club published in the June 1985 Chain Letter. He recounts the short history of the club and how it came to be. Bob will be coming from New York to join us for our 40th anniversary bash at il Casaro restaurant. He along with fellow founder Dave Freling and early members will reflect on the import and significance of the club and its effect on their personal lives. Our anniversary bash will be on Sunday September 18. For details and to make a reservation, go to the club website event listing here.

Different Spokes: Personal Reflections, by Bob Krumm

Whenever Different Spokes oldtimers get together we recall the early days, how San Francisco had probably been ready for a gay bicycle club years before Different Spokes actually began. The scene was particularly ripe in 1972 in the midst of the national fitness craze and the Gay Games of 1982 here in the City.

Organizing Cyclists.
In the late winter of 1982 the Gay Olympics Committee announced in the B.A.R. that gay athletes in particular sports should start unifying to become teams for the games representing San Francisco. Jerry Ford, a member of the Games committee also had an interest in bicycle racing. He assumed the role of organizing a bicycling team for the Games.

Early meetings took place at the offices of the Games on Castro. Throughout the spring and summer of 1982 interest in the biking contingent grew. Regularly five to ten people attended meetings and twenty to thirty others expressed continuing interest. The people who became involved were either interested solely in participating as racers in the Games or had an interest in bicycle touring and recreational cycling. Early on everyone agreed to keep the two groups together. It was thought that a touring/recreational club would have the ability to nurture a racing team.

Decide and Ride.
Starting in March of 1982 riders informally met at McLaren Lodge on Sunday mornings to caucus and set off on an informal ride. These rides were the predecessor to “Decide and Rides” and were the only formal activity of the group.

On May 27, 1982 the group felt it was necessary to raise money for a mailing. A bake sale was organized and all the proceeds (less than $40) was used toward a mailing directed at people interested in racing.

Several months later the touring/recreational side of the group becames disenchanted with the racing focus in preparation for the Games. Four individuals—Dave Freling, Brad Ennis, Lenny Thomas and I— met at the Sausage Factory and began discussing ideas about developing an organization that was not affiliated with the Olympics. Other early participants included Howard Neckel, Jim Frizzell, Curtis Ogden, and Dale Miller. Many of us rode as a group in the 1982 Sequoia Century, which was a thrill for all of us.

“Flying Faggots”?
Plans were laid for the first meeting of the new club, which was held at my home on August 5, 1982. Ten people turned up for the meeting. At this meeting Different Spokes/San Francisco was officially named. Rejected names included Cy-Clones, Flying Faggots, and Chain Reactions. We all had a deep feeling of excitement about the prospect of finally acting on our ideas. We had talked relentlessly about it all during Olympics meetings. Finally we were actuallly doing it.

Rides started to be organized. A photo of a group departing on a ride to Orinda was published with a story in the B.A.R., which generated the first influx of new members. As a result this small circle of early members and friends began to shift to a broader group of people with varied interests in cycling. It was a bit of a watershed time for us. Still we had not developed a formal membership nor did we have any rules or bylaws.

A Growing “Different Spokes”.
An informal steering committee had emerged during the fall of 1982 comprised of Lenny Thomas, Dave Freling, Brad Ennis and myself. Brad left in early 1983 and Melanie Scott stepped in to take his place. I generally chaired the meetings along with Lenny. Dave handled the fiscal matters and Melanie handled the secretarial duties.

We met monthly in various homes, our mailng list grew to 150, and meetings drew as many as 40 people. Matters discussed included ride rules, publicity, BART passes, scheduling of rides, a newsletter, outreach, etc. The first newsletter was published in December 1982 just before Chirstmas.

In February 1983 memberships and dues were offered and we instantly had 25 paying members. In April the meetings had become so large that they were moved to the Community Room at the library in the Haight-Ashbury. Later in the spring the steering committee was informally elected as the first officers of Different Spokes.

New Face, New Energy, Some Folks Move On.
By late spring membership had grown to 75 and by the end of 1983 it stood at 116. At about this time the early founders and core group began to disperse and new leadership within the club began to emerge.

In those days, as today, the club’s success was built upon the special efforts of members who contributed in ways beyond the mere payment of dues. Those people channeled their special interests or abilities into service for the club. They have all brought to it a vitality that has made us unique and become our trademark.

The June 1985 meeting will be my last. From there it’s “Eastward Ho” to New York. What a pleasure it has been to be associated with Different Spokes over the years. There have been good times and bad but the sum total has been immensely rewarding and gratifying. Bicycling together has a way of cementing friendships. This is something we have all appreciated from Different Spokes regardless of our length of time with the club.

From here on I’ll be happy to serve as the “New York correspondent”. I plan to catch up with the Manhattan club, Diff’rent Spokes, and will report on their scene. Meanwhile all you friends and cross-country cyclists, please look me up when you arrive in New York and we’ll go on a two-wheeled tour of the town!


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