I don’t remember having a tricycle. Maybe I did. I just don’t remember it. I remember my Big Wheel. It was kind of like a tricycle but it was all plastic and it was cool. At least to five year olds in the very early seventies.
I learned to ride a bike before I had a bike. A neighbourhood kid had one and when I was six or so, I started trying to learn how to ride it. Out of my mother’s sight. No training wheels, no parental encouragement…I just learned how to ride a bike. And one day, when my mom was sitting out on the balcony on a spring day, I rode past her on this bike, calling out to her to take a look and from then on, I was a bike rider. She couldn’t have been more shocked had I rode my Big Wheel up to her while smoking a cigar and sipping from a brandy snifter.
The next year, I got my own bike. It was yellow. I don’t remember much beyond that. I don’t remember riding it much because it was soon stolen. We lived in a basement apartment in a sketchy neighbourhood and we naively thought it would be safe within the confines of our apartment building. It may have been the first time I remember my heart breaking a little bit. I was seven.
My youngest uncle is only eight years older than me. He had been recently orphaned and he was living in the same neighbourhood as us, with his sister and her husband. Steve was only fifteen. But he would come pick me up to take me to my softball games. He would double ride me on his CCM Targa. Powder blue. Perfect for 1973. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. To be fifteen with a powder blue CCM Targa ten speed. Forty-five years later and I still remember being excited by seeing him ride up on that bike.
Over the years I’ve had many bikes. A Sekine, a Peugot, a really nerdy folding bike, garage sale bikes, a girl’s bike. Banana seats, chopper forks. I was once riding down Bank Street and my old friend Josh was having a smoke outside of Barrymore’s and he shouted out to me that it was nice that my sister was kind enough to lend me her bike. I don’t have a sister.
I had a bike stolen at high school. Cut from the fence. My last bike was stolen out of my garage about seven years ago when I absent-mindedly didn’t close the garage door. That was a nice one too.
I bought a bike today. A Schwinn. Don’t know if it’s a good bike or not but I think it will serve my purposes. And Schwinn is a name I associate with The Price is Right from the seventies and in the recesses of my mind, I can still see Price is Right model Dian Parkinson introducing this beauty in a green bikini.
My mother is gone now but somehow I think it would be sweet if, as a fifty-one year old, I could ride by her, sitting on a balcony, and surprise her because I was still riding a bike. It’s a pretty thought. And honestly, I don’t think Dian Parkinson would be all too impressed with me in my dorky bike helmet with my Dora the Explorer bike bell. But you never know. Wish me luck with this one!