to the simple pleasure of
riding a bike.”
John F. Kennedy
Bicycles have been part of my life since my first tricycle I received on my third birthday. I was so proud of this shiny red tricycle, which came with its very own miniature stop sign. I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood all day until it was dark out and my mom would find me and bring me home.
I guess it was the freedom experienced when riding a bicycle which attracted me the most. As a toddler, you’re at the mercy and control of everyone. Riding my bike gave me the power and freedom to go anywhere my tiny feet and legs could take me.
My tricycle days were short lived when I discovered two wheelers. My much older sister and brother would fly by me on my short slow tricycle. So, within a year after receiving my beloved trike, I taught myself how to ride my sister’s two-wheeler. At four years old, not tall enough to reach the pedals while sitting on the bike seat, I learned to balance myself on the foot pedals. Stopping the bike was a challenge but I quickly had my technique down pat. My sister’s hand-me-down large red Schwinn bike was where my serious love of biking began.
When we relocated to California, my parents bought me my dream bike to ride to school. This green, Schwinn Sting Ray, My Fair Lady model was my first very own bike.
In my teens I discovered speed bikes. I read and researched about these modern fast lightweight bikes which fueled the astonishing “Bike Boom” of the 1970s. I saved up for one I had my eye on at Montgomery Ward. This Japanese $100, black slick 10-speed became my pride and joy. I learned to fine tune the gears and brakes. Daily after riding, I would spend a good hour cleaning and polishing my bike. I even had bought myself a small pack with tools that attached under the back of the seat.
One school morning I went to the garage to get my bike and it was gone. In tears and feeling like someone had kicked me in the gut, I called my mom at work. I was crying hysterically and she kept asking me who died? I was finally able to tell her my bike was gone. She told me to call my older brother, which I immediately did.
Within an hour, my brother showed up with my bike in tow. My brother had drove around the neighborhood and spotted the bike thief. He knew immediately it was my bike from the shiny spokes and tool pack under the seat. When he stopped the grubby looking kid on my bike and asked where he got the nice bike, the kid stammered and couldn’t answer. At that point, my brother jumped out of his car, grabbed the boy and told him to hand over the bike or he’d break every bone in his body. The kid dropped the bike and ran. My brother’s actions are not exactly something someone would do today, unless you want to get shot. But, I’m forever grateful to my heroic big brother for getting my bike back so quickly in one piece.
In the new millennium, I moved on from 10-speeds to mountain bikes. My current bike with pearlized white paint finish, is a Boss Two Infinity 7-speed and what they call a hybrid which is part speed bike part mountain bike. It’s extremely smooth riding and comfortable. Of course, I’ve tricked it out with my black sheep skin seat, handlebar pack, black sturdy rear rack, CatEye Padrone bike computer as well as front and rear lights.
I’ve had numerous 10-speeds and mountain bikes through the years but my first bike the Schwinn, My Fair Lady, Sting Ray was like a first love and nothing I ever rode or owned would ever match that feeling of true freedom on that first ride.