The Kingsbury Bagel and Bicycle Association (KBBA) is a loosely structured group of neighbors, all male, who ride on Sunday morning, every Sunday unless the temperature is less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or it is raining punishingly. In those latter cases, we still meet for coffee. We are a carefree group, even the name is loosely derived. The only document we ever print is a telephone tree for Sunday morning calls. Wilhelm sets up a conference call to Jim, Steve, and me to decide on a riding route. Then each of us calls other members to say “we’ll meet at Shelly’s at 9:30 a.m. and we are riding to…..” Twice a year, we plan a weekend outing–one for a bicycling overnight the other for canoeing with an overnight on one of Missouri’s magnificent floatable rivers or a distant bicycle trip.
Our group of 19 or so individuals averages ca. 70 years of age with the most senior now 84. The professions represented include those in the arts, science, philosophy, law, business, architecture, psychiatry and medicine. We almost never talk shop. We often talk of our avocations: Jerome is a recognized bookbinder and volunteers much of his time to the Missouri Botanical Society, Chris reads to underprivileged children, I work diligently for a local environmental organization. Most of us love to cook because we all love to eat. When camping, we are drinking, singing and retelling jokes. They are my Sunday ride and the continuity of this fellowship bespeaks its importance to us. As individuals, we travel frequently, so the number of riders on a given Sunday will vary. Seth is in France much of the summer and Jerome in Rhodes. Floyd lives in Copenhagen most of the time now. Shelly wears a baseball cap under his helmet, carries 3 pounds of keys and has a very quick wit and an unbelievable amount of knowledge. An excellent artist, Shelly produced our logo. Albert knows everyone in St. Louis and is the campground dinner chef. Fred R was the breakfast chef before his recent passing at 82. Bill, an outstanding artist and professor who recently passed, knew the words and music to every Broadway show tune ever performed. In memory of Fred R and Bill, two of the founders of the KBBA, our organization donated funds for bicycle racks in our beautiful Tower Grove Park, the first bicycle racks in that park. Danny, our oldest rider, uses an electric motor assist bicycle. He went from slowest to becoming one of the fastest riders in the group, especially uphill. Alan and Frank moved to Santa Fe but still manage to join us on our longer trips. So does Larry (an architect in Washington, D.C.).
Our ride is rarely more than 15 miles at a speed rarely exceeding 10 miles/hour. An important item is where we will go for our coffee and bagel. Often, if someone cannot ride that day, they will join us for coffee. The coffee ritual lasts an hour with lots of simultaneous discussions and we are back home to wives and sweethearts by a little after noon. By any standards, this group is hilariously counter culture. No one wears matching anything in clothing. Old shirts, old pants, old shoes, weird colors and almost no Lycra although biking shorts often appear in warmer weather. The bikes are typically low to mid-range in price and performance and half the bike chains need lubrication and flat tires are not uncommon. We are not serious riders. We are serious coffee drinkers. But mostly, we are friends.
KBBA: A personal reflection. David Garin revised September 2021
The Kingsbury Bagel & Bicycle Association (KBBA) has been a delightful mainstay in my life for more than 20 years. In addition to personal friendships, it has worked as a support group, a weekly social gathering and a mechanism for some wonderful adventures. Time has taken its toll and as it becomes obvious that my future with the organization as I knew it is limited, it seems appropriate to reflect somewhat on its history and its members.
The KBBA began as a running group comprised of a few neighborhood men who decided to run together on Sunday mornings. As people aged, it transformed into a bicycling group and acquired its name. The group would bike for an hour or two and wind up at a coffee shop where, in addition to a beverage, they would often consume a bagel. Over a 30 year period, different people joined for an occasional ride. Finally, shortly after I joined, the membership had increased to the point where it was difficult to find a coffee stop that could accommodate all of us. At that point, we stopped adding members and, in succeeding years, a number of deaths have reduced our roll. In addition, many existing members have ceased to ride but, in a declaration of solidarity, continue to join us for coffee.
Looking back on our roster, my thought is to comment briefly on most of these current and former members, and reflect on some of the highlights of past years.
Uri Bamnolker has always been the youngest member of the group. Gregarious, willing to assist, a computer savvy runner as well as cyclist, he was born in Israel of parents of Indian descent.
Rick Barner was an honored heart surgeon whose charm was only exceeded by his tremendous athletic abilities. He rode the best bicycle in our group and often rode circles around us. He was also an excellent cook as we discovered on one outing.
Albert Barton is an Alabama-born psychologist who knows everybody in St. Louis. Despite more than six decades residence in his adopted city, he has never lost his southern twang. On our overnight canoe trips (we undertook one or two a year on Missouri’s beautiful rivers), Albert was the quartermaster. Our only restriction given to him was to limit the amount of bacon he would purchase.
Seth Carlin was Professor of Music at Washington University (WU) and a gifted concert pianist who performed regularly. An original member of the group and beloved by friends and students, he died in a swimming accident shortly after he retired. In his memory, another member of our group designed a bicycle rack in the shape of a piano and, with help and funding from a variety of sources, it is prominently on display in front of the building that houses the WU music department.
Jim Chickos is a member of my chemistry department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), having spent 50 years in that role, and a diehard biker. Even in the worst weather, Jim is ready to ride. Congenial, informative on a wide range of issues, always willing to assist, he is one of two Greek-speaking members and the “go to” guy for bicycle repairs.
Fred Epstein was the president of a local manufacturing company who enjoyed getting together one on one, especially for lunch meetings. After having his successful family business bought out, he was asked by George Soros to take on the task of advising some small nonprofit organizations. Outgoing, honest, and inquisitive, he is sorely missed. We dedicated a bicycle rack in his name, one of four such racks we have placed in Tower Grove Park.
Claude Evans is one of two Professors of Philosophy in the KBBA and one of the best riders, distinct from the rest of us in that he also drives a Porsche. He is a good story-teller and has a great voice for it.
Stephen Feman is an ophthalmologist who graciously had me as a patient as well as a friend. He dutifully became the secretary of the group, starting our Sunday morning calls cheerfully, even in the worst weather. An optimist by nature, informative on all things medical, his cheerful countenance sets the tone.
Rockwell Gray rode with us for a short time but often joined us for coffee before illness prevented that. A literary intellectual, who added substantially to our discussions, Rockwell, who passed away this year, had a commanding presence with a warm, sympathetic personality.
Sheldon Helfman, now a retired Professor of Art in the School of Architecture at WU, continues to produce watercolors of commonplace structures that display his mastery of both disciplines. He is noted for his trademark huge gaggle of keys hanging from his belt loop and his clever wit. He designed the KBBA logo.
Chris Hexter is an attorney who specializes in labor law. An avid civil rights proponent, he was a student volunteer in the Mississippi summer project for voting rights more than 50 years ago. Distinguishing features include a booming voice, cheerful countenance and the KBBA record for the most flat tires in a season.
Danny Kohl was a professor of biology at WU and a well-known, well-regarded liberal activist. He believed in inclusion and tried on many occasions to increase the size of our group, which led to often confusing and temporarily divisive discussions. He had the only powered bicycle, one that was rigged with an electric motor. The eulogies at his memorial service were a testament to his humanity. We dedicated a shelf of bicycle books in his name at a local public library.
Bill Kohn was a founding member and knew the words to every Broadway musical tune. On our overnight canoe floats, his rich baritone voice led us in song around the campfire. A professor of Art at WU he had regular successful gallery exhibits at which most of his paintings sold. In addition to some of his watercolors, I treasure a sketch of his, drawn on a paper tablecloth in a restaurant in Annapolis, which I fortunately tore off, saved and framed.
Ron Krone, the newest member (2011), is another heart surgeon. Ron rides a very nice bike, and wears jackets from his undergraduate days (none of us are fashion trendsetters) when not wearing a jacket with our KBBA logo. Ron is another source of both medical and local dining information.
Allen Levin retired from the Art faculty at Webster University and, from his print studio, professionally printed the KBBA logo on our jackets. He also designed the piano bike rack for Seth and spearheaded its production and installation. Allen has taken most of our KBBA group photos and actually sends them to us.
Wilhelm Neuefeind is professor of economics and longtime chair of the department at WU and an avid bird watcher. He has a computer like memory for bike routes and shares a wide range of interests so it is a pleasure to ride with him, which I do frequently.
Alan Pearlman is a neurologist who moved from St. Louis to Santa Fe after retirement from the Washington University School of Medicine. He hosted the KBBA there on at least 4 occasions since 1999, where we biked, hiked and rafted when not camping in his lovely ranch home with extended portico. A gifted photographer who was blinded in one eye at an early age, Alan sent me three of his photographs, which are on display in my house. One from 2004, titled Bikers on the Beach, shows 6 members of KBBA on a beach in Cape May, NJ. In 2021, I am the only one of the 6 who is still biking.
Frank Puloma, another KBBA member who retired to Santa Fe, was a pharmaceutical representative. With a smooth southern demeanor, he led our hikes in Santa Fe and hosted members needing space when Alan’s house was full. His memorial bike rack plaque states that he was “smooth as a fine bourbon”.
Fred Reichman was a founder of KBBA and its leader for many years. Reliable, self-sufficient, master chef at our canoe float dinners, he was a successful attorney as well as an excellent biker and sailor. Fred was a gentleman who took great joy in providing his assistance to those in need. He organized a sailing trip for us on the Chesapeake Bay at some personal cost. His passing was a difficult moment in KBBA history and we wondered if the organization would survive without his presence.
John Roach is an attorney who is well-known in St. Louis political circles where he has been a force for urban development and various public issues for decades. He is our local historian and, despite many medical issues, manages to join us for coffee on most Sundays.
Larry Sauer was a well-respected architect who moved to the Washington, DC area. Larry had a summer cabin in Rehoboth Beach, which he redesigned, where he hosted the group on at least 4 occasions in the 21stCentury. Always cheerful, full of ideas, and adventurous, his recent passing is a fresh loss.
Jerome Schiller is professor of philosophy at WU and our other Greek speaker. In fact, Jerome has a summer residence in Lindos on the island of Rhodes, which is a popular vacation spot. Jerome became very well-respected for book binding having provided his services for libraries and individual collections. A meticulous baker who weighs each ingredient, his fabulous Linzer torte, whiskey cake, and challah has been enjoyed by many of us.
Ray Slavin has the honor of being the oldest member of KBBA, at 91 years young, and he continues to ride. A highly regarded allergist, his former patients greet him regularly on the bike path. Ray is the only KBBA member to have had two bar mitzvahs.
Floyd Stein was a regular member of KBBA through 2008 when he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. An architect by training and an artist by practice, he inspired us to look at things from different perspectives. Among our many discussions was one about his wind drawings and whether they should be considered art (I think yes, others think no). Although living in Europe, he has maintained a connection to our group.
David Garin, who started this website, cyclingoverfifty.org, is professor of chemistry emeritus at UMSL. David started cycling at age 40 and has had many biking adventures with friends as recounted on this website. He hopes to have many more.