June 10, 2016
The New Bicycle 🚵🏼
The other day, while waiting at the Canadian Tire Customer Service desk to pick up the patio table I’d ordered online, I was passing the time by doing a bit of people watching when I noticed a young Dad and 2 little guys – twins – about 4, maybe 5 years old. Looking very bored, I could tell they’d been waiting for a bit but even so, they were quiet and well behaved. By and by, a clerk appeared carrying a cardboard box of something … what it contained, I wasn’t sure, but when the twins looked at each other, smiles wide, I knew it must for them. Still though, the Dad and the twins remained where they were … patiently waiting. A short while later, the clerk reappeared carrying a brand new bicycle! Bright and shiny, it was a pint-sized 2 wheeler complete with training wheels, streamers on the ends of the handle grips and a bell. Well, the looks on their faces! What a pair of cuties! I couldn’t help but share that precious moment by offering a big, happy grin of my own. The Dad smiled back while telling the boys, who by this time were giggling and jumping for joy, “I’ll build the other one when we get home … for now, you’ll have to share … rock/paper/scissors to see who rides first!” As I watched them leave the store, the twins hand in hand, skipping along right behind the Dad, I was taken back … way back … to thoughts of my own brand new bicycle …
Leading up to that new bike though, I first had to learn to ride which, when I was a kid was a bit of a gong show! Helmet? Training wheels? Hell no!!! Not back then! I learned the good old-fashioned way! I recall the moment the my sister Terry let go of the seat on her big old 2 wheeler for the umpteenth time yelling, “Keep going! Keep going!”. And keep going I did! Instead of screaming, steering directly onto the grassy boulevard and laying the bike down, I kept my balance! And I pedaled for dear life, passing by at least 2 or 3 neighboring houses before chickening out and … yup … steering onto the grassy boulevard and laying the bike down.But … that was the moment! That was the moment when I knew that I could do it! I could ride a 2 wheeler all by myself! Wow! What a feeling! Now all I needed was a bicycle of my own!
I spent the rest of the summer practicing on Terry’s bike whenever she wasn’t using it … up and down the sidewalk out front, honing my “2 wheel bicycle riding skills”. Every couple of days, I’d park it at the edge of our yard and run up to the door calling through the screen for Mom and Dad to come to the living room window to watch me. And, as I headed into Grade 2 that fall, I was doing pretty darn good!
When spring arrived, heavy winter coats and boots were traded for light spring jackets and running shoes. Bicycles were brought up from basements and taken down from pegs on garage walls. And, as Grade 2’ers were allowed to ride bicycles to school, I begged and borrowed Terry’s bike as often as I could! Although she was pretty good about letting me use it, very quickly it became apparent that one bike wasn’t going to do for the 2 of us and, as it was Terry’s bike, I was usually the one stuck hoofin’ it!
Then, one beautiful Saturday morning in the spring of 1965, Mom and Dad arrived home from a shopping trip and to my absolute surprise and delight, they brought with them a brand new, turquoise blue Schwinn bicycle … and it was for me!!!!
My beautiful, 2 wheel bicycle (<– which looked almost identical to that one) was a little big for me at the time but that mattered not! I signed up for “Pedal Pushers” with my best friend and together we learned “safe riding”, practicing the arm/hand signals for right turns, left turns and stopping gaining confidence, balance and riding agility on the parking lot of the gas station next to the “little store” (as it was known) on 66 Avenue and 83 Street. It felt great at the end of those 5 or 6 weekly classes to “pass” the course and be deemed “capable of riding a 2 wheel bicycle safely on the road”.
Over the next few years, many an adventure and/or misadventure was had while travelling “there and back” on on my beloved turquoise blue bike (omg … we were so lucky that we didn’t caught on many, many occasions!!! lol). Stay tuned friends! I’ll share some of the stories about that new bicycle in upcoming posts!