September - October 2005
Table of Contents
September - October 2005
The 5BBC’s Longest-Active Member
Dr. John Sutter
A History Project Member Profile
Dr. John Sutter, the 5BBC’s longest-active member, joined the club's predecessor organization as a teenager back in 1965.
by Sharon Behnke and Barry Hartglass
In the July/August Bicycletter, we premiered The Five Borough Bicycle Club History Project, which chronicles the life of the 5BBC, along with its most significant events and dedicated people.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Dr. John Sutter, one of the longest active 5BBC members on the books. John, a pediatrician residing and practicing in New Jersey, joined the 5BBC’s predecessor organization, the Bicycle Committee of the Metropolitan New York Council of American Youth Hostels, at the age of 13 in 1965. Back then, the Council was located in Greenwich Village, on 51 Sixth Avenue at 8th Street, to be exact. John also has fond memories of subsequent Council locations on Spring Street in SoHo, and on West End Avenue at 88th Street.
Even at that young age, John was ambitious in his rides. At the age of 15, he rode cross-country with a small group of friends, and also biked across Europe at the age of 17. Over the years, John has been a rider or marshal in over 25 Five Boro Bike Tour/Bike New York events, and has participated in over 10 Montauk Centuries.
The best parts of our talk with John were his recollections of the early rides, such as the New Jersey Cherry Blossom Ride, and the Bike Train Ride across Long Island. Yes, the Bike Train Ride, in existence from 1945 to the early 1970s, is an antecedent to today’s Montauk Century. In most of those years, the Council would charter an LIRR train to drop riders off at pre-determined distances from Montauk. John is particularly proud of his 1970 25-year anniversary patch.
“Patch rides” were very effective in recruiting new members. John Sutter has this 1970 patch for the 25th Anniversary of the LI Bike Train Ride, precursor to the Montauk Century.
In fact, John’s patch collection is historical in other ways. In the 1960s and 1970s, patch rides were used to recruit new members. The way it worked was that a patch would only be awarded to participants who completed a ride within a certain time limit. John indicated that younger riders were particularly motivated by the patch rides.
John remains active on several charity-related rides, and currently rides an Aegis. He still owns several of his original bicycles, including an authentic Nottingham-built Raleigh Carlton. John, who attributes his love of the outdoors to his father, is also a cross-country skier, hiker, and indoor rock climber. Married, and with two adult children, John rides on occasion with his son, who works in a New Jersey bicycle shop.
Thank you, John, for your time and memories.
We are very eager for all contributions to help us compile the history of the Five Borough Bicycle Club. We especially want to get comments from long-time members of the club, along with old newsletters, photos or memorabilia. If you wish to recount your own bicycling history, please contact us! Thank You.
Sharon Behnke, Vice President, email@example.com