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When I ride, I daydream a lot…some of you can relate to that based on our recent article. I sometimes think back on all the fond memories I have had on or around bicycles, and I began to wonder if our readers would share some of theirs.
It could be your first experiences as a child, or the feelings you had when you may have rediscovered bikes as an adult. Whichever the case, we’d love to hear about some of your bike memories. Here, we’ll kick this off by sharing some of ours:
Noah: I remember living in Nebraska, and upgrading from my first 12″ toddler bike to a 20″ Huffy Challenger BMX bike, and tackling a bunch of awesome dirt hills. I remember exploring the outskirts of town from sun-up to sun-down with my best friends, all by bicycle, and my parents didn’t freak out. I’d tell them of our adventures. As long as I was back home by the time the street lights came on, they were cool with it. No nanny-state for us as kids! The incoming generation of adults is going to be so messed up when they experience real life for the first time, without knee pads and safety harnesses.
Miriam: A magenta girl’s cruiser something like this! Let’s recall the first time I rode a bike as a tiny fetus… I think I was about 7 years old?! or 17?! I can’t remember. But I DO remember this awesome magenta banana-seat bike my mom got me at a garage sale as my first bike with no training wheels. Single speed, coaster brake, sun-damaged plastic basket complete with plastic flowers, sparkling paint job, and flowing glittery tassels at the handle bars. Needless to say, this thing was a princess BEAST. I was intimidated, “Wha? A bike wit onwee toooo wheelz? Where is the little wheelz, Ma?!” So I cowered in the driveway and decided that looking at the banana-seater and playing in mud was just as good as riding it. ENTER UNCLE JIMMY! Uncle Jim was like that cool younger uncle you had who was single and worked at the ice cream shop down the street, who let you climb on him like a jungle gym and liked to play outside with you… One weekend, Uncle Jim told me to quit being a sissy la-la and forced me to get on the bike. We “rode” up and down the street together as he ran behind me helping me balance on two wheels. He was holding the handle at the back of the banana-seat as I pedaled slowly; he told me he wouldn’t let go until I said so. After a few jaunts, I started to build up speed – with the sparkly tassels signifying light speed was just around the corner! “Don’t let gooooooooooooo!” I kept screaming, as I pedaled faster. I realized that he eventually let go and was running behind the bike pretending to hold it! And like, that, SHAZAM! I cruised off into the sunset at age 1907! (If by sunset you mean the ivy-covered chain-link fence at the end of Francis Court and by age 1907 you mean age where crashing into ivy results in crying disproportionate to actual injury). I guess stopping was a little too much for my fetus brain to handle with all that adrenaline…
Jack: So many of my memories of youth revolve around bikes…spending time in my grandfather’s garage/bike paradise, learning all the aspects of building and maintaining fine Italian machines at the hands of a man who approached his bicycles with the same care he took repairing Rolex and Omega watches (his “day job”). He taught me so much — including how to use a bench-mounted buffing wheel to polish up a beautiful pair of 1035 high-flange hubs just prior to him building a wheelset around them. I also remember spending a lot of time riding on the back of his tandem, with a brutally stiff Brooks saddle wedged into my nether regions. My most fond memory of him is the last bike ride we went on together: me, a teenager at the end of my lackluster road racing career, him in his mid 70s. After a leisurely 30-mile cruise, we decided to sprint back to the W&OD trailhead in Vienna, Virginia. The man dusted me like I was standing still. Humbling, to be sure.
The most vivid bike memory for me, though, is the transition off training wheels. Early on that day, a practice session ended up with me sprawled over the hood of a parked car, cursing that blasted two-wheeled monstrosity. Later that day, after some gentle persuasion by my father, I had another go at it and suddenly, EVERYTHING CLICKED…the balance, the steering, the braking. I was free, and I was more excited than I had ever been before.
Anyhow, enough memory-lane-action for us. Let’s hear YOUR stories, if you’re in the sharing mood. Just leave your comments below.