Just wanted to spread a little love around. One of the frequent readers of this blog has gotten the bug and started his own blog now. Since I greatly encourage both writing in general and blogging in particular, I thought I'd send him a little greeting from here.
Besides, by doing this, I can feel less guilty for ripping off his stories! Both of his opening stories got my mind racing about similar things that happened to me... and now I have a couple of story ideas. Thanks for the help! Besides, rip-off is the sincerest form of flattery. An expression I learned in the bike industry goes; R&D = Rip-off & Duplicate. So Chip, thanks!
The first ten-speed ride;
When I was about 6 years old, I had a neighbor who was about 10. He and I were pretty good friends, in spite of the age difference. It was kind of comical because I was almost as tall as him, but not quite, and super skinny. He was taller and much "thicker" than me. We made a curious pair. We spent a lot of our time riding up and down the dead end street we lived on, on our Big Wheels. We actually rode mine for so long, doing power slides at the bottom of the hill at the end of the street, that we wore holes through the wheels and it rode like a clown bike with 3 different sized wheels. It was pretty funny, but we kept riding it until I finally did a slide that turned into an end-over-end tumble that snapped the thing in two. Bye, bye Big Wheel!
Sometime that Spring or Summer, my neighbor got a 10-speed bike. I think it was red and, though I really can't clearly remember, I think it was a Schwinn Varsity or Collegiate. Either way, it had gears and hand brakes and we both thought it was pretty bad ass. He rode that around and I rode my banana seat bike with big bars (same bike pictured in my profile). After a while, I started to get mighty damned jealous of his bike and the speed he was able to attain on it. My single speed bike was about as appealing as oatmeal compared to pancakes and bacon (bacon... yum). Anyway, one day I just started in on him with the "can I ride your bike, can I ride your bike, can I ride your bike, can I ride your bike" routine. He insisted, rightfully, that it was too big for me and that I would hurt myself on it and he didn't want to get in trouble. Knowing me now as you do- you can imagine that I did not give up my nagging.
After about 4-5 hours of this unrelenting begging, he finally cracked and allowed me to try to climb aboard the bike. He was right... so very right. It was too big after all. Even sitting on the top tube I couldn't quite reach the pedals and the reach from the seat to the bars was way, way too far for me. However, sitting on the top tube and trying to ride was too darned uncomfortable on the boyhood. I wasn't looking to join any Mormon choirs any time soon. Undeterred, after falling of the bike in the street a half dozen times, I convinced him to let me ride the bike in the grassy field that was next to his house. I told him I would just coast down the hill and if I fell, it would be on the grass and neither his bike nor I would get hurt. Fool-proof plan conjured up by youthful genius!
He propped me up on the bike, showed me where the brakes were and how they worked and then I gave the "ready" sign and he gave me a little push down the hill so I wouldn't fall over as soon as he let go of the bike. At first, the sensation of coasting on the bike was awesome and I felt so cool sitting on the saddle and stretching as far as I could to reach the bars. I looked a bit like Superman, in my nearly horizontal position. My feet were behind me, not under me, and I was holding the bars steady. I was a winged falcon on a wind of exhilaration... until...
The speed finally began to scare me a little and I awkwardly tried to get my small hands onto the brake levers to slow the bike down, but my fingers were still a bit too small to get a good grip. Now I was less exhilarated and a bit more scared. I shrieked a little yelp for advice, to which all I got was a "STOP DAMMIT!" If only I could. At the bottom of the hill, which began to get closer by the nano second, was my friend's house. I figured that once I got to his yard, I'd be able to regain control when I got onto his nice smooth lawn instead of the bumpy, rutted field. I was bouncing around like crazy, crushing my groin and chest on the saddle as I flew down hill.
Unfortunately, during my calculations, I failed to remember that my friend's yard was fenced with a chain-link fence. The kind with the sharp, twisted ends at the top. Now I could see the error in my thinking and was really beginning to give the 10-speed some second thoughts. I didn't feel cool anymore and was completely frightened now.
As the fence drew closer I began thinking of my landing and how I would try to somersault when I flew off the bike and over the fence on impact. Like a cartoon or something, just flying off the bike and landing softly on the grass. It seemed feasible and was now my only hope of getting out of the situation with my skin.
Impact was sudden and jarring. Chain link looks like it would "give" a little when you plow into it. It didn't "give", but I still "received". That flight I thought I would take was brought to an abrupt halt when the cutoff denim shorts I was wearing snagged the tips of the fence and stopped me mid flight. My graceful landing became a painful dangling upside down by my shorts. Once I realized what the hell was happening and that I was relatively alive, I began to squeal like a stuck pig! My "friend" bailed for the woods so he wouldn't be anywhere near the incident when somebody finally stuck a head out the door to see what was happening.
There I was, upside down and now sliding out of my shorts with a slight trickle of blood running down my chest from the scrapes on my stomach. As it turns out, the shirt I was wearing looked like it had gone though a paper shredder and was in tatters around my head. My friend's mother came running out of the house just as I fell out of my shorts, which were still attached to the fence, and landed on my head. I was only six, so I gave it a brave face but I was still crying.
After enduring several doses of rubbing alcohol and iodine, I was bandaged up and sent off to my Mom. I swear she looked at me like she knew this was not going to be the last time I hurt myself on a bike. Smart woman.
It's no wonder I love cycling so much today.