paean

11

Feb

paean

first-bikeI think we all remember our first bikes, or at least the first with which we really conquered the neighborhood.  Mine was blue, freckled with rust, with a big banana seat and ape hanger bars, great for popping wheelies and riding hands-free.  I wrote a poem about it once but that was nothing compared to this beautiful contribution to today’s ProJo.

That bike I mentioned gave me my first taste of independence on the day I rode it 4 miles into town without my parents knowing.  I must have been 8 or so.  It was also under me, then on top of me, the first time I took a gnarly fall, thanks to a wonderfully steep street a block from home and a stone in the middle of the street.

It would be fun, I think, to hear other people’s memories of their first bikes.  Bring ’em on!

3 thoughts on - paean

  • Durishin
    Feb 12, 2009 at 10:55 am

    It was red. We moved from Jersey to Ohio between the time my dad got it and the time he gave it to me. I saw it in the box as the movers brought it up from the basement to load into the van. All I knew was that it was red and that I couldn't wait to get to Ohio to open it up.

    I was five years old then and had been riding my mother's Royce Union step-through for a couple of months. No sitting (I was too short), just standing on the pedals, reaching up to the bars and cruising down the street behind the big kids. Who knew that forty-odd years later I'd be riding the same way (sans the big kids) in the name of increased core strength.

  • Alan Barta
    Feb 14, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Bicycles with gears were uncommon when I first started riding a nameless one speed with coaster brakes, recreation not transportation. We always walked to school, never rode there, never wore helmets when we did ride. We played a dangerous game akin to "kick the can" or "tag" only mounted like polo players. Nobody died or was seriously injured despite many collisions and getting "air" by riding fast off curbs, moguls and ramps. First bike of my own came on Christmas of 1960 (or so), a green Raleigh 3-SPEED with fenders and frame pump. I was more interested in how it shifted than actually riding it, as we did constantly on one speeds. A special day's outing might be from Providence to Garden City (which was once a coal mine) or to T.F. Green airport (to watch turboprops take off). I bought my own red Schwinn much later, uncertain friction shift 10-Speed with Brooks saddle, which expanded my range to Point Judith, CT, and elsewhere. Road it home on Warwick Avenue, which you used to be able to do before they illegally stole the shoulders. Used it a couple times to ride to high school. Back then you couldn't park bikes anywhere except in a garage, because, even chained, it would be stolen; five bikes were stolen from my family, all of which we miraculously recovered. Since then I've worn out several black framed bikes. How are such remembrances interesting?

  • Margherita
    Feb 14, 2009 at 7:34 am

    I think they're interesting because they show the more things change, the more they remain the same. In this case, the sense of freedom and autonomy and sense of your own body that a bicycle gives. And at the risk of being boring, I'll say that the first thing I remember about biking is my first try on a geared bicycle with hand brakes (back then we called them English bikes). Going furiously down a hill, I was frantically spinning the pedals to brake and crashed into a parked car. I still have a little scar from that accident, but it sure taught me to use the handlebar brakes!