I fixed-up my bicycle after it was dormant for a number of years. It hung from a rack in the garage. I looked at it all the time, but had not ridden it since I lived in a different location.
In part, I do not consider my current neighborhood to be very bike friendly. Ironic since the city has a massive bike/hike trail system, and is undergoing the marking of bike lanes on many city streets, yet, the notion of riding did not feel safe. I live in a city where four-lane thoroughfares are everywhere, moving people quickly and safely around the area. Our thoroughfare system is a model for other communities. The city had the foresight to build them early to foster commercial development and residential subdivisions, which helped it grow and become the second largest city in the state.
There is a trail within a few blocks of my house, if you don’t mind the hills, and I do. At this point in my life, hills are hard on the body, at least until I can get these old legs in better condition. I’m not too old to ride, just to pedal up steep hills.
I chose an interesting time to get my bike tuned-up. Half of the metro area had the same idea and the bike shops were flooded with garage/basement bicycles needing tires and turn-ups. I had to wait more than two weeks to get it back, and they didn’t replace the tires. “They’re good,” they told me. So after I got my bike home, naturally I put it aside for a week while we had rainy weather. When I did grab it for a ride, the front tire was flat. So, another trip to the bike store, but luckily they replaced the tire while I waited.
I have been out around the neighborhood a bunch of times since, but never straying too far. There are lots of hills and my area is bordered by thoroughfares with 40 mile per hour (actually more like 50 mph) traffic. I’m not getting anywhere close to that.
So, like a kid, I have a boundary of how far I can go on my bike. As I was riding around a circular route I’ve staked out, I was drawn back to my childhood. My first real bicycle was a Christmas present. I was probably six years old. Your first bike is like your first car – freedom.
We lived in a small town, and our house was literally about two blocks from main street, downtown. I was not allowed to ride downtown, but I could ride to the next block. Riding around the block I lived on was actually one square block, a pretty good distance. The block behind us was a block of commercial properties, so the sidewalks were smooth concrete. The other three sides of the block were old brick sidewalks with driveways. The bricks were uneven, sometimes missing, and moved by large trees. In essence, it was an obstacle course for a kid on a bike. That’s what make it fun.
This was the early 1960s, a totally different time from today. Although I was not allowed to ride my bike downtown, I was free to roam downtown, and I did. Parents do not allow their children to be unsupervised today, like I was then. I often went to the five & dime downtown, or the toy store, the market, the library, or virtually anywhere else. It was a different time in America.
Riding around that block, bad sidewalks and all, was a great feeling. Years later, when we moved to a new town, I kept that sense of adventure. As I got older and outgrew my bike, I walked instead. I had better feet then. In college, I bought a 10-speed bike and I rode up and down the hills to school everyday, and downtown on the weekends. Having asthma didn’t even slow me down. You’re fucking invincible when you are young.
Now at this age, yes, you might have old legs. Legs will walk you to the bathroom, but a hearty spirit will give you the world.
But the ticket, take the ride. (Sorry for the advertisement)