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My cycling journey started somewhat typically, with a deliberately hefty boost from my father, effectively sending me careening down the sidewalk and resulting in a very skinned knee. I was encouraged to go back inside for some bandages, but I insisted that I give it another shot, and I’ve been on two wheels ever since.

During college, my interest in the bicycle expanded from just enjoying the ride to becoming more involved with the machine itself. In 2004 I put together my first road bike, and by then I was hooked. The differences in the ride quality of a stock bike and the bikes that I had been assembling were immediately apparent. These early stages of working out my own preferences naturally led to more curiosity about how the bicycle can lend itself to a person’s particular needs or desires from the machine. The seed had been planted.

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After college I was a bicycle messenger in NYC (as gruelling as it is romantic), which solidified the role of the bicycle in my life. I later sustained a life altering spinal injury at the age of 22 and in my cycling prime. After spending days in the hospital unable to walk, I was acutely reminded of why mobility was so important. It was everything to me.

My doctors suggested that riding a bicycle was not going to be beneficial for me, and would most likely exacerbate my degenerative injuries. Emotionally and psychologically, I wasn’t ready to hear that, so effectively I didn’t hear it. What I heard instead was that I was going to have to be creative and work hard to keep the bike in my life and to enjoy a life of riding.

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Through comprehensive research of my condition and how it might be affected by cycling, I came up with a theory as to what might be less impactful; I needed specific frame geometry. I quickly came to the realization in the world of stock geometry that the dimensions and lengths that I was seeking just weren’t out there. I concluded that I would have to go custom, so the next step was to sign up for a three week course in custom bicycle frame building.

It worked! I was able to ride throughout my recovery process, a.k.a. adjustment period. The process included a one and a half year long course of physical therapy and rides of steadily increasing duration. Three years after being told not to ride a bike, with the caveat that if I had to, I should keep it to less than an hour on a cruiser or recumbent, I was at this stage able to ride my custom for up to eight hours a day.

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I am not a doctor, and I encourage all people to adhere to the advice of their doctor. I knew the risks involved with my course of action, but decided that life without riding was not something that I was ready to consider pursuing at that time in my life. Everything that I had learned and experienced over those years made me determined to help others and serve my community.

Everything all comes right back to mobility and freedom, and every time I can help to further or restore a persons abilities on the bike it is personal and very meaningful to me. There is no greater reward than when a client tells me how I’ve improved their life. I couldn’t be more excited to be continuing my cycling journey here at Signature Cycles and look forward to serving you!

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Our first ambassador, Nick Leeper