My name is Tom Petzold. I discovered riding as a teenager in northern Michigan. The mystery and intrigue of the sport had a lot to do with the interest I developed in it.
My earliest exposure was as a young teenager in the late 1970s seeing my aunt Ruth Petzold’s road bike which had beautiful handcrafted frame and componentry from Europe.
There was a local bike shop in Harbor Springs owned by Bill Prall. Bill was experienced in both road and track racing. The fact that, at that time, it was so hard to find high end equipment, or images and coverage of competitive cycling added to the intrigue.
My knowledge and awareness of the sport was a slow trickle of information I picked up hanging around Bill and participating (and often bonking) on his early morning rides. Greg Lemond’s time trial on the last stage of the 1986 Tour to beat Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds was the first time I watched a bike race.
I was drawn to the achievement of both technology and human endurance pain threshold that revealed itself in that race. I was also drawn to the community of riders I was becoming a part of and how we recounted Greg’s achievement with a shared insight into the enormity of it. With the great fortune of spending my summers working in northern Michigan I was blessed with the most important ingredient that lead to my interest in the sport – access to phenomenal riding conditions. The exploration of Emmet , Charlevoix and Antrim counties became a big curiosity. I loved finding new ways to adjust my routes and rarely repeated the same ride twice.
In recent years I have cut back my riding due to assorted aches and pains. But when I received an invite from my cousin Miles O’Brien there was no way I was not going to respond with an enthusiasm that tries to emulate his own. So I am dusting off the bike and starting to get back into it. Because of the Less Cancer ride I have a much renewed enthusiasm for the sport heading into this summer. I look forward to the camaraderie and encouragement from the other riders in the group. My wife, Jeanne, shares my love of the sport and we hope that this ride is completed on our tandem. This photo is the introduction of the sport to our son, TJ. After competing in the time trial the next day he never returned to the bike. He went on to become a hockey player; teaching me the lesson that the interest in the sport must come from within as was the case with my own experience.