One of the greatest things for a kid in life, is being able to sprout some small wings of mobility through learning to ride a bicycle. Thinking back through your life, to the first bicycle ride you took by yourself. In that moment of time, you then realized you were having your first taste of what it surly must be like to be totally free? To feel the wind in your hair, along with the gift of imagination, imaging you were in the indy 500 bicycle race and pulling away from the rest of the pack. No small feat I’m sure in the minds of everyone, but you’re the fastest bicycle rider in the world. So in your mind this was just a different day, new adventure, a dream that was up to you and your bicycle to make it all happen. Just riding free and as fast, as your little feet could, or to the point of being able to just keep you’re little feet on the peddles to the very least. Yes to the young and the young at heart this was the best of times.
To your parents who were the guiding force to your first ride. Or who were the ones at least, who were holding you steady, by hanging on to the back of the seat of that bicycle. Giving you the fantasy of being the fastest in the world. They surly could have been in better shape, or was this the unseen force in the life of every parent. Because in the days before training wheels. This was the gift of teaching by experiencing for both of you. For some parents this was also the only exercise they could find, while still doing job one! Parenting! The parent that got this job also as a benefit, was the one who would be getting into shape. This usually also was the parent that was the most out of shape. So being able to teach this all important lesson of life was in both of your interests, to accomplish it as fast as one can. Life could then go back to being normal. Parents enjoying making new memories through observation parenting. Seeing their kids enjoying riding a bicycle, and for the kids enjoying life at the speed of their bicycles.
From the front of my parents garage there was a flat spot of road way. An easy place to get on and off a bicycle. From there, it was a short slightly up hill climb to get onto the drive-way. As a kid I thought this was the road, or the track of the indy-500 race, just where it was raced on. A dog leg left turn then needed to be made and then you had a 300 or 400 foot run with a slight downward sloping roadway. At the end of this run was a new slightly left turn that needed to be made. Not making this turn was sure disaster. The turn would put you into a soft grassy front yard to ride in, not making the left turn put you on an ever steeper down hill ride which ended at the real roadway and just passed that.. a lake. A sure crash! If you didn’t crash into a car on the road, or a car crashing into you. There was the drive way parking lot of the lakes boat ramp, and at the end of that water. All of this was going down hill at a steeper clip for a new rider.
But making the left turn put you into the grass. This too had a down slope going the same way as the drive as well slopping towards the left, down through the front yard towards the back yard. The back yard was the woods. The wild animals that lived in the woods were kept at bay by the barb-wire like action of the wild black berry’s growing at the edge of the woods. So at the bottom of the yard one would then have to make another left turn. This turn was just flat in train for a short distance, giving way to an uphill slope. In the middle of this slope one would need to guide their bicycle through a narrowing part of the yard between the back of the house and the detached garage. Once you got through this part you were back to the flat part in front of the garage. A slight left turn and your back at the starting point and ready for lap two in the big race.
My Dad must have enjoyed getting in shape, or at least drew the short straw every time I rode. Dad would get out my bicycle and showed me how to check the tires for the proper air pressure. Helped me oil the chain, also checking to make sure the brakes worked. Just the ordinary safety checks one should do before the big race.
He would explain just how to find my balance on the bicycle and then placing one foot onto the peddles and pushing it down would drive me forward and then I would place the other foot on the other pedal. This pedal would be at the top of its movement, pushing this one would make the bicycle move forward some more. Now if I wanted to stop just turn the peddles backwards. He would demonstrate by getting me going and then telling me to hit the brakes. Bring us both to a screeching stop. I had this part down to a ” T “! My problems started when I had to make a turn, this is where I lost my balance. Going straight was somewhat easer now, less wobbly and more controlled. But on my turns? This was the light at the end of the road for my Dad. He was probably thinking he was in better shape in his life then ever before. Besides he could continue to get into shape by riding with me on his bicycle.
On this day or maybe all along. Dad would let go of the steadying action he was providing by holding onto the back of the seat of the bicycle. Letting me for short distances ride by myself, yet unknown to me. Even as he instructed me into making the left turn. ” No son! No! the other left! ” I still got these things mixed up in the excitement of it all. I finely made the turn. Now speed was picking up. I still was hearing my Dad behind me and his heavy sounding shoes, the noise they made as he was running behind holding the bicycle steady for me. But the bicycle was just a little wobbly not so bad this time. I thought maybe I could go still faster. Just enjoying my somewhat new-found freedom of speed on my bicycle. I really got going fast! I saw the end of my short trip on the drive way and now the turn I need to make into the yard. But with this kind of speed The turn was going to be interesting at best. But my Dad had my back or so I thought.
” Son! Son! Make the turn. Left turn! ” My dad called out. This was strange to me he always sounded so close behind me. But the sound of his shoes weren’t there either. What was I …
” Make the left turn son! ” Dad sounded excited. Was he happy for me, or was he scared because I was going faster than he could run!
I’m sure I thought Crap! I’m riding my bicycle by myself, but the turn!! Was I about to crash? Of course I forgot about the brakes. And my feet were going so fast. But not to panic, I can do this. I applied the pressure to the handle bars in making the turn. The bicycle responded, Up and over the embankment and into the yard still going down hill. This time steeper. This ment faster. My feet started to look like a blur, just moving faster and faster. Picking up speed faster now! The woods and black berry’s were playing a game of chicken with me. It was all about the will of the speed racer, ” Me ” and the next turn. As it turn out I no longer was able to hear my Dad calling out to me just what to do! I strained to pull on the handle bars to engage the turn. But the grass grabbed my wheels. The arch-enemy of speed and traction. I struggled with it, and applied more force from my small stick figure frame to over power the evil grass. But because my Dad didn’t cut it yet, it was longer then usually and wouldn’t let me make the turn.
With the fastest speed that I have ever driven before, I was no wimp! My choices were bail out and let the bicycle crash into the black berry on its own. Or be the true supper hero and yet over power the grass! “Now make the turn!” I commanded , and strained at the handle bars. ” Make the turn!!” Much like saving the world in the last seconds before true disaster. I was determined! And so I rode the bicycle into those black berry’s. I vanished! When my Dad finely got there He was laughing, and catching his breath all at the same time. Probably proud as a peacock as well.
” Did you like your first ride with out help? ” He called out to me.
I on the other hand was pissed off. “Just where was my Dad? Why didn’t he help me? Who was the wise guy to have invented black berry’s with huge stickers on them any way?” I yelled out. Everyone was getting the rath of me. For I had a temper, and this was just not cool.
The more I struggled to get free from the stickers, the more the stickers dug into me. Finely I got free. I was in the yard. My Dad was still catching his breath and laughing on the grass. He finely got me all cleaned up and retrieved my bicycle, getting some good scratches as well on his arms.
” Son you did it! You were riding all by yourself. ” He sounded so proud of me. He patted me on my back and said. ” Lets clean up your bicycle so you will be ready for the next ride. ” He guided me up the back of the last stretch of the run, back to the garage. ” You went so fast and all by your self. ” He said. Smiles just beaming on his face for me. ” So what do you think about that? ”
” It was good till the black berry’s.” I responded. Still pissed off. ” But why did those stupid wheels not turn for me? That stupid bicycle! ”
I was still being a normal kid. Not yet talking the role I played in the crash as I should have. But In the back of my mind. Glad I made the first turn into the yard, instead of just straight down the rest of the hill for a swim.
One of those files! Memories of my Dad, I can now put back into the exploding file cabinet.
Miss you Dad.
All the best!
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