I don’t consider my tricycle or the little bike with training wheels to be my first bike. A bike, after all, was what the big kids rode. I was so excited when my father announced the time was right for me to graduate to a real bike.
Visions of My First Bike
I would go to bed each night envisioning different versions of what my new bike would look like. Sometimes it looked like my best friend’s bike and sometimes it looked like the rich kid’s bike from down the street.
My bike would be shiny and slick, with chrome fenders and streamers in the handles. A bright, shiny bell would sit on the right hand side of the handlebars that I could ring to my heart’s content. I wanted a basket on the front so I could go to the store for my mother or take my little dog on bike rides with me. And, of course, the bike would fly like the wind when I pedaled it.
Reality of My First Bike
The day had come when I was to get my new bike. I could hardly contain my excitement and drove my parents to distraction trying to pin down the exact timing of this childhood event. I waited for word to get in the car to go bike shopping, but that edict never came.
Instead, my father pulled into the driveway with the trunk of the car ajar. I was aghast! He had gone and picked out my bike for me. How could that have happened? My momentary disappointment was overcome with curiosity to see the new wheeled-wonder.
With a grin on his face, my father produced the bike from the trunk. He sat the bike upright on its kickstand and pronounced this bike to be mine. This bike was not new, it was not shiny and it certainly wasn’t sleek. It had a tired blue coat of paint on it. True, the fenders were chrome, but also had scattered spots of rust here and there. There was no bell, no basket and definitely no streamers in the handles. It was the Sherman tank of bicycles.
This bike was a hand-me-down from an older cousin.
My Bike and Me
My feelings were mixed at that moment, but my father looked so proud to have brought me the bike, I felt I couldn’t disappoint him. He urged me to take the bike for a ride up and down our street to get the feel of it. Any disappointment that I felt vanished when I got on the seat of that bike and successfully rode it first this way, then that. I could ride this big bike!
And ride that bike I did, for many years. It’s funny how ownership of something can blind you to its flaws. I had transportation that would take me to the park, to friends’ houses and just about any place I wanted to go.
After countless miles and bicycle trips, one day as I pedaled up a hill not far from home, the front part of the bike separated from the seat and back wheels. I walked it home slowly and realized with sadness that this two-wheeled machine had lived out its days. The worn-out machine had been an integral part of my childhood and an important rite of passage.