2017-09-09 / Top News

Vintage Bicycle Show Set for September 23

By Stephanie Fortino


The Vintage Bike Ride and Show is planned for Saturday, September 23, and bicycles like this 1952 Schwinn Tornado will be on display. This bicycle is owned by Mackinac Island bicycle mechanic Cayce Leithauser, who has organized the event. Bicycles and riders of all ages are encouraged to gather at Marquette Park September 23 for a ride around the Island at 10 a.m. and bicycle show at 1 p.m. (Photograph provided by Cayce Leithauser) The Vintage Bike Ride and Show is planned for Saturday, September 23, and bicycles like this 1952 Schwinn Tornado will be on display. This bicycle is owned by Mackinac Island bicycle mechanic Cayce Leithauser, who has organized the event. Bicycles and riders of all ages are encouraged to gather at Marquette Park September 23 for a ride around the Island at 10 a.m. and bicycle show at 1 p.m. (Photograph provided by Cayce Leithauser) Bicycles of all sorts will be on display on Mackinac Island Saturday, September 23, for a Mackinac Island Vintage Bike Ride and Show, a new event conceived by Island bicycle mechanic Cayce Leithauser.

Drawing on his lifelong interest in bicycles, Mr. Leithauser hopes to see a wide variety of them. Participants will gather at 10 a.m. at Marquette Park. From there, the group will go on a ride around the Island.

At 1 p.m., participants will meet back at Marquette Park for a bicycle show, at which owners can mingle, get to know each other, and talk about their bicycles. After that, a raffle of various prizes from Island businesses will be held.

There is no cost to enter the Mackinac Island Vintage Bike Ride and Show, and participants do not have to register their bikes. Bikes of all sorts and riders of all ages are encouraged to participate.

“For the first year, it will be informal,” Mr. Leithauser said. “I’m expecting a small crowd,” which\he hopes will grow in years to come.

Mr. Leithauser has partnered with Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry CEO Jerry Fetty, who has offered to transport bicycles coming to Mackinac Island for the show free of charge.

Collecting and repairing vintage bicycles is a lifelong passion for Mr. Leithauser, who grew up near Bliss in the northern Lower Peninsula. He estimates he has at least 20 vintage bicycles in various stages of refurbishment and he enjoys working on them because of their high-quality craftsmanship.

“Working with bikes over the years, I’ve been watching the quality decline,” he said. “You have to spend more and you get less-quality bikes. In 1975, the cheapest bike would have the best quality bearings. It’s really nice to see those bikes, to work on them, and see them around.”

Visitors to Mackinac Island may be familiar with part of Mr. Leithauser’s collection, as some of his best vintage bicycles are on display at the lobby of the Star Line midtown dock on Mackinac Island. When the dock was owned by Arnold Transit Company, he worked with gen- eral manager Veronica Dombrowolski to create a display, a partnership that has continued with Mr. Fetty. Mr. Leithauser plans to add more bicycles to the exhibit this winter.

Growing up in rural Northern Michigan, Mr. Leithauser relied on his bicycle as his main mode of transportation. He’d often cycle 10 or 12 miles to visit friends or go on adventures.

“I lived out in a small town and my bike was my freedom.”

During his childhood, he also developed an appreciation for how bicycles work.

“When I was about 10 years old, I found a bike in a field at a friend’s house,” he recalled. “I took it apart and put it back together. It was the first bike I rebuilt.”

Learning how the gears, bearings, chains, and all the other pieces of a bicycle work and fit together started a lifelong career for Mr. Leithauser. From that first rebuilding of a bicycle as a 10-year-old, he began working at bicycle repair shops in various cities from Petoskey to Albuquerque, New Mexico. For the past 18 years, he’s been working on bicycles, which brought him to the Island most recently.

For the past two seasons, Mr. Leithauser has offered a mobile bicycle mechanic clinic through his business, Back Country Bikes. Throughout the summer, he visits summer homes on the Island and does repairs and tuneups for residents who usually have four or more bicycles.

Now, he’s in first season as the bicycle mechanic at the Island House Hotel, where he’s working closely with the Callewaert family to update the hotel’s fleet.

After he got his first job at 14 years old, he made his first major purchase: a high-end mountain bicycle to ride trails. Now in adulthood, he’s expanded to motorcycles, which he often rides when he’s back on the mainland.

“Things with two wheels are my favorite,” he said.

Inspiration for the Vintage Bike Show and Parade came from watching the Wheelmen visit the Island each year, he explained. But the pre-1918, cycles are harder to come by and more expensive, he continued. He conceived of a different type of bicycle gathering that would allow more people to participate.

“I see the wheelman come here, but to be part of that ride, you have to have a bike that’s pre-1918,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to have a ride for newer vintage bikes… That’s a huge category. You can have beach cruisers, BMX bikes, early-’70s and -’80s vintage mountain bikes. It’s cool to see.”

Even if his event is only attended by Mackinac Island people, Mr. Leithauser will consider it a success. He’s looking forward to sharing his passion for vintage bicycles with others.

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