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Bill Walton, the cyclist

So I'm driving in the neighborhood the other day and I turn the corner and notice about a block away this ENORMOUS human being straddling a bicycle with both feet on the ground, waiting for a traffic light to change. A couple hundred yards away, I notice that this cyclist, standing over his bike, is looking over the rooftop of the 6 and a half foot SUV idling next to him at the light! I pull up behind the SUV and can't believe what my eyes are revealing: a bike that had to have at least a 70-cm frame (for reference, I'm 6'1" and ride a 56-cm frame bike), the guy was wearing a helmet the size of a cooking wok, feet and shoes that appeared to stretch from the front tire to the rear, and legs...my gosh...legs that seemed longer than the height of an average woman. He was easily the largest and tallest homosapien I have ever seen on a bike, and in addition to my thoughts of disbelief, I said to myself, "Good for him."

Then, just before the light turned green, this cyclist the size of two Lance Armstrongs turned around and looked at me. When I saw this man's very distinguishable face, it all came together. That was former NBA all-star and present basketball broadcaster, Bill Walton -- all 7 foot 2 inches of him on a bike! I knew he lived in the 'hood, but had only seen him walking past Jamba Juice in a tie-dye t-shirt once before.

Once the traffic light turned green, off Bill went, just like anyone else on a bike. But when I passed him in my SUV, I noticed the top of his bike was as high as my window. Yikes! With some luck, I'll see him on the road again--only next time, hopefully, I'll be on my bike--I'd love to feel what the draft is like riding behind a former NBA Center.

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I watched Bill Walton crash

I watched Bill Walton crash out of the novice race at a criterium in Orange County in either 1973 or 1974. It was like watching a redwood fall. I don't know if he was injured, but he sat on the ground looking rather depressed for a good while.

I can't resist mentioning another bike/NBA encounter. Sometime in the early seventies, Wilt Chamberlain came within about an inch of knocking me and my cycling companion off our bikes by suddenly opening his car door in front of us. Normally we would have given a thorough cursing to anyone who did that, but in this case neither of us could say anything but "That was Wilt!!!" -- which we repeated for about five minutes straight. Apparently he was en route to a volleyball tournament at UC San Diego, which was across the street from where this happened.

Just for the record, Walton's

Just for the record, Walton's interest in cycling is probably a lifelong affair. I remember seeing him riding around campus at UCLA on an enormous orange 10 speed. Obviously, a custom frame.

In case you did not know.

In case you did not know. Bill Walton wrote a great book on bicycling. His compelling argument for cycling....? Because it rehab-ed his knees. So what you saw was a man who could have been sitting at home with a medicated condition. Instead you saw what I consider to be a triumph of the human spirit.

Great book for the cycling beginner, but sadly out of print. Still if you know someone with trick knees who is tall and wants to get into shape, I get this book for them in the secondary market.

I saw a bike hanging in Joe

I saw a bike hanging in Joe Bells bicycle paint shop once. It was HUGE! The paint color was pardon the use of this word but it was "turd" brown. On the head tube for the frame badge (the tube on front of bike where the fork goes through) was a Greatful Dead Decal. I asked JB whose bike that was and he replied 'That's Bill Waltons" "Dude is a big Dead Head". I wish I had a photo of it. It truly was a sight to behold. So next time you see him snap a photo I would love to he him in motion on that thing. As a side note: the frame was a custom built "Bill Holland" from down in Spring Valley, CA. I believe it was Reynolds 753 tubing. This was before Bill switched over to titanium tubes.

Bill Walton has actually been

Bill Walton has actually been a very avid cyclist for many years. During his basketball days it was his release. He wrote an excellent cycling book in the 1980's. And yes, he has always been a proponent of custom frames.

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