Recently while texting back and forth with one of my new friends, I learned something horrible. It stopped me dead in my tracks causing me to die a little inside. She had never been on a bike before. . . I’ll work on getting her on a set of wheels, now however is a time for reminiscence.
This made me start thinking of all the adventures and bikes I had when I was a child. Wow feeling kind of old writing about all this. My earliest memory on a bicycle is a little foggy, my mom tells it to people every now and again so it stays fresh in my mind.
My first bike.
There’s only about five to ten seconds in my memory of riding the bike with training wheels. I would make circles in the driveway or ride a little ways down the sidewalk and back again. One day my parents decided to take those training wheels off the bike.
I climbed on the bike as they watched to make sure I wouldn’t lose my balance and topple over onto the sidewalk. Then I was gone. I took off down the sidewalk and wasn’t looking back haha. My parents had to chase after me, as I continued around the block. Going faster than I ever had before on my tiny 12 inch tires. I don’t remember falling with that bike although I’m absolutely sure I did.
Miles down the road.
In my early years I wasn’t exactly not known as a klutz. I will admit though, a lot of it could have been prevented if I would have listened to people. A fantastic example of advice I should have heeded was do not wear sandals and ride your bike! Told to me by one of my uncles. This occurred a few years after my first bike, unsure of my age at the time.
Sandals were so convenient! Just slip them on, hop on the bike and take to the roads. When I returned home I would hop the curb and park my bike on the front lawn. (Didn’t have to worry about it being stolen back then.) Flying down the road towards my house I went to repeat this procedure and my foot slipped! I didn’t make the jump over the curb this time. My toe collided with all of the words I should have listened to invisibly placed on the edge of curb. Immediately my toe began flooding my sandal with blood.
My uncle took me inside the house directing me to the bathroom so I could place my foot in the bathtub. I believe his words were, “bet you won’t ride your bike with sandals on anymore will ya?” To this day I refuse to ride in anything other than shoes or cleats made for the bike. I cringe whenever I see others with something other than shoes on. If this happens to you it will not be a happy day.
Just like the pros!
Another great bone head accident occurred around the age of 11 or 12. My uncle’s a triathlete and would watch bike races on the TV from time to time at my grandparent’s house. I became curious as to why the riders were hunched over in such a weird position. He explained to me how aerodynamics worked and planted an idea in my mind.
I only lived about 5 or 6 miles away from my grandparent’s house depending on the route taken. The route was complete with rolling hills which allowed me to coast down them gaining addicting speed. Hmm how do I become more aerodynamic on a basic mountain bike? I tried crouching down with my chest over the handlebars at first. Wait I remember watching skiing on the winter Olympics! They would always put their hands behind them to make themselves more aerodynamic! Come on I was a pre-teen obviously I knew all there was to know about the subject.
Sitting atop one of the steepest hills I could find I readied myself. Time to break a new land speed record! Gaining speed on the descent I very slowly moved my arms and placed the hands behind me just below the seat. Turns out my hands were lower than I had anticipated and they got caught between the tire and brake mount. The side of my fingers were used as brakes, and became stuck. I lost control of the bike causing the front wheel to turn and my stomach to finish the job of slowing me down by thrusting me into the handle bar end. Showed up a while later to my grandparent’s crying and explaining why my bike didn’t work anymore. Thankfully no permanent damage was done to my fingers.
I have to include this before my mom can mention it in the comments.
I traded a bike for a box of doughnuts, a bag of sunflower seeds and $10.00. Trust me, these was some really good donuts! I had that bike for a couple years and had beat the crap out of it riding it all over the place. I had repainted it a couple times with the wrong type of paint and used it as if it was indestructible. To me it had lost it’s value and I was itching for a new one. What better reason to convince your parents you need a new bike than not owning one anymore. . .right?
One of my friends didn’t have a bike and really wanted one. He was a bit on the heavy side, so we always went to his place for food like pizza bites or, ugh the donuts. The original offer for the bike was the $10.00. I wasn’t just going to give my only mode of transportation away so I refused. He sweetened the deal a little with a bag of sunflower seeds, but this still wasn’t causing any handshakes. Then after talking to his older brother, basically like a car salesman talking to their manager, he came back with an offer that included a box of donuts.
Now place yourself in my mom’s shoes that day. I walk in the house with a box of doughnuts half eaten and a smile on my face. She asks me to put my bike away, and so begins the fun. “Well I don’t have a bike anymore, I traded it for this box of donuts.” The look she gave me was outstanding. From that point on whenever I would bring a girl home to meet mom, she would always be sure to retell the story. Thanks mom!
The bike after the doughnut transaction.
I’ll admit it, I was a tough kid to put up with. Especially when it came to school. I want to say it was 8th grade when this happened. I used my mind to torment my teachers in the classroom instead of behaving and getting great grades. The result was summer school, even though I still think one of my teachers honestly hated me. Summer school was held at a school a few towns over around 21 miles away.
Regular kids would take the bus back and forth between the schools to take their classes. I was not a regular kid. After play fighting on the bus with one of my friends the driver thought we were being serious and kicked us off, banning us from using the bus for transportation. The school told us our parents would need to drive us back and forth for the remaining weeks of summer. Problem is my parents wouldn’t transport me. Only option was to take my bike.
So each day during the week I would pedal 21 miles to school then 21 miles back home. This quickly turned into a game of beat the bus full of kids back and forth. I may have been dumb and immature that year, but I definitely got in pretty good shape haha.
High school crush and a 75 mile bike ride.
Up until high school I think the farthest I had ever been on my bike was between 40 to 45 miles. A young naive heart will make you do some pretty dumb things. Especially when your crush leaves for part of the summer to visit their family far far away. I’ll skip all the planning because to be honest there wasn’t too much of it. I left my house around 2am and began the ride to go see my best friend.
I had never been that far on a bike before but I was determined as hell to complete it. I can’t remember how long it took, I think it was around 8 or 9 hours by the time I finally arrived. I woke her up to let her know I had arrived, as she climbed out of bed I sneaked into it stealing it and making her sleep on the couch. My legs recovered faster than anticipated and I was able to tour around Alexandria Bay, NY and meet the other part of her family.
The results of the trip wasn’t what I had hoped for. The romantic gesture and miles I put on the bike wasn’t enough to win her heart, but in hindsight I’m glad nothing happened. She still remains my best friend from high school and one I can go to when I need an ear for my mind vomit. Long story short, we had fun tubing out on the speed boat all weekend and I made out with her cousin that ended up not talking to me after a couple weeks.
The road ahead.
There are many more memories of the time I spent on a bike, but they aren’t worth mentioning. Where I am today in my life I believe there will be plenty of adventure to share with others and memories that will last through the years. There are a few scars I have yet to form on my heart and body, but I look forward to them.
My bike now is a huge part of my life and I fully intend on helping as many people as I can with it. It’s frustrating sometimes knowing there’s people out there that are barely surviving and we as a country could do something about it. If I haven’t met you in person yet I hope we will have that encounter soon. Enjoy life, find your adventure and keep pedaling!