While Upshaw is often astride old “Trusty Rusty,” the used 1988 Schwinn Premis he bought back in the ‘90s when he started out, he now has assembled a collection of bicycles, most of them acquired in the last three years. He rides them all, and in all seasons — from his custom-built Renovo handcrafted from four different woods to his 1888 Columbia high wheeler.
“I ride all year long,” said Upshaw. “I ride on snow. I don’t ride on ice — intentionally.”
Upshaw rode his first bicycles as a kid growing up in Anderson. He attended Anderson High School, and then pursued his degree at Purdue University. After a hiatus during his academic career, he finally claimed his degree after finishing up at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) — a physics major with a math minor.
As a mechanical engineer, Upshaw took advantage of what was then an abundant employment scene in central Indiana, working no more than three years at any given job.
Upshaw met the woman who would become his wife in 1962 at General Motors. Sarah worked on the assembly line throughout the years, while Upshaw followed his own more eclectic career path. The pair was married in 1963, and raised two sons. Their eldest son passed away in 2010.
Upshaw lost his Sarah in 2011, but not before she saw him riding his coveted Renovo outside the nursing home where she then resided.
Now, when Upshaw’s not trimming his shrubs or busy helping out his daughter-in-law, it‘s all bicycles and basketballs. Along the way, he’s an encouragement to those who are interested.
“He’s the one that got me here,” said Beth Bailey, who’s been riding with the
Spoke and Wheel brunch crowd since Upshaw inspired her to join the group last fall. That’s no surprise to Upshaw.
“If I like it, it’s got to be good. My opinion,” said Upshaw. Kind of makes you want to get out and ride. As Upshaw would tell you, “Do it, or don’t.”
This article also appeared in the summer edition of Madison magazine, the publication offering features about life in Madison County. The magazine is sold at various retail outlets and at the offices of The Herald Bulletin, 1133 Jackson St., Anderson.