Stars and Stripes; A look at the shop Jerseys

Over the years we’ve had many customers asking about the jerseys lining the walls at Uptown Cycles and the stories behind them. Some of the jerseys are over 30+ years old and honestly the details are kind of vague. However, some old teammates and friends have been adding some of their memories so I think we have the details close to accurate.

With the Olympics going on I think it is fitting that the first blog be about the four Team USA jerseys.

The first one I got was when I raced the Tour of Columbia (TOC). Cycling is huge in South America, and was even back then in 1989. That race was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in cycling, but the people and terrain were amazing. It was a Pro/Am field stacked with some of Colombia’s best climbers. My teammates and I were the first ever US squad to enter that race. One of my teammates, Tom Harberts, won the only “flat” stage (although it didn’t seem flat). Oliverio Rincón took the overall (he went on to win stages in the Giro, Tour of Spain, and Tour de France) over the favorite Fabio Parra (another Tour de France and Tour of Spain stage winner).

While doing some research on the TOC, I came across my teammate Paul Willerton’s comments from about that race, “I have a soft spot for Colombians,” Willerton said. “I rode the Tour of Colombia in 1989. Pablo Escobar, a wealthy Colombian drug lord and an elusive cocaine trafficker, proclaimed he was going to kill any American on sight. We were down there riding in our stars and stripes jerseys. Escobar was a cycling fan, we were told, and probably wouldn’t kill us.” Glad to make it out of that one! I think I could write a book on the great times and utter hell we all went through in that race.

The USA jersey that says “PRO” on it (top right) is from my closest friend, Paul Willerton, when USA Cycling and USPRO were separate cycling federations. He wore that when he was on the World Championship team in Spain. Paul was telling me that Andy Hampsten and Mike Engleman were the only Americans to make the front group. I still think this is the classiest of all the USA kits. They need to go back to this design.

The USA skin suit is from when I went to Europe in 1990 on a National Team trip. I had a good ride at the Tour of Texas earlier in the season and Chris Carmichael came up to me before the final criterium. He asked me if I wanted to go on a 6-week trip to France, Holland, and Germany…uhhhh, yes. Half the team were track guys and half were roadies. We did a couple of 5-day stage races with some 1-day ones as well.

The long sleeve USA jersey was, I believe, Craig Schommer’s. Craig lived 3 doors down from me where we grew up in San Jose, California (Willerton was my next door neighbor). And yes, I was the worst cyclist on the block! Anyway, Craig was a track star and one the reasons Paul and I got into the sport. Craig medaled at the Junior World Championship in the Kilo, and he could win a criterium on any given day. He became a great road racer, won a stage at the Coors Classic, and earned a spot on the 1998 Olympic road team in Seoul, Korea.

Compared to today’s USA kit designs these old jerseys look pretty humble but they represent some legendary times in US cycling history.