I never could have predicted that happiness in my life would be defined by a bicycle. I should have known as much. My fondest memories of childhood and even teen-age hood are of riding my bike and the places that it took me. I’m only writing about this today because I am still flying high from the fun I had riding my mountain bike for the first time.
My mother died just before I turned seven. For my seventh birthday my dad bought me my first bicycle. The only thing that I rode before that was a scooter, with a bell, in Germany. I loved that thing too. I vividly remember my first bike. It was a 24 inch big girl bike, blue with chrome fenders and steel handle bars. I’m sure it was heavy and I know it was way too big for me. In keeping with my father’s drill sergeant mentality I learned the hard way, no training wheels, in the grass no less. He thought if I fell it wouldn’t hurt like concrete. It’s pretty hard to pedal and get momentum in the grass. I know that from riding today.
I loved that bike. I got a light for it so I could ride at night. I had streamers, a bell and a basket. Helmets didn’t exist then. I also had a clamp-on book holder in the back for riding to school. I was in second grade. I still remember the appearance of the asphalt when you look down to see how fast you are going. I polished it with Brillo? to keep the rust off. That thing was my car.
Even as a teenager living way out in Sherwood forest my bicycle was freedom. I remember leaving the house very early in the morning to ride to a friend’s house seven miles away. The farmhouse dogs were a real nuisance. It scares me to think of them now. I would creep by the neighbor’s house to sneak by the Doberman that lived there. It was a good day if I got by unscathed. But the rewards came with the subsequent downhills (just like today).
The steep hills I used to ride on don’t seem so steep today and the distances don’t seem as far. I took a K-mart 10 speed to college to use as transportation. It never really caught on while I was there. One guy that caught my eye there had a very sexy “Italia” 10 speed. I thought he was so cute and very hip. I had a boyfriend at the time but was obsessed with the cute guy with the bike. He also had a Volkswagen Scirocco that I found very exotic. Coincidentally my boyfriend’s roommate had stolen a ” really nice bike” and had stashed it in his basement. Did I want to see it? Sure. And sure enough it was cutie’s. I could score big points with this guy leading him directly to his stolen bike. That’s just what I did. I can’t remember exactly how many points I scored, but I did end up marrying him.
I rediscovered bicycling in a new way about six years ago. It has really taken over my day to day life. Nothing feels better than to get on the bike, listen to my favorite music and grind away as easy or as hard as I desire. My day to day troubles are completely forgotten, not to mention the bonuses of eating whatever I want. Priorities have been rearranged. I am relocating only to bike friendly cities. With that I am planning my escape.
I love riding my bike.
P.S. The photo is a postcard of the Stelvio from circa 1960 when I lived in Europe. No photos of my bike have survived. This climb in a car scared the hell out of me as a child.