Ok, so I fell off yesterday--it wasn't my fault! (yeah, ok, it was). I wasn't hurt, bike wasn't hurt, only my pride. I got to thinking about it:
My first bike was a Western Flyer, red. (Whoever’s got this posted on ebay, it’s a beaut! I’m “borrowing” your pic, it’s beautiful. If you don’t want me to use it, email me or comment below). The bike was too big for me, and I fell off with regularity.
My next bike, I rode the holy hell out of—a purple Schwinn Sting Ray! The extreme coolness of me on this bike cannot possibly be overstated—I was the MAN! People trembled in fear when I flew by, furiously pedaling! (At least, in my imagination…). My Dad bought the thing in a box; he hid the box in the back of the station wagon under all the other Christmas gifts, and I was –clueless-. He assembled it while we slept Christmas Eve, so “Santa” dropped the Sting Ray on me. I was 11, so this was the total BOMB. No more old-fashioned bike for me (my friends were very jealous, although Richard Padilla (that jerk! and one of my best friends) got a green one just like it from Santa (that two-timing red-suited Coke-guzzling cookie eating jerk two-timed me! And freaking Richard lived right down the street!).
By February 11, 1973, I was way way way too mortified to be seen on the Schwinn. That was my birthday; my Dad (over the furious objections of Mom, one of the only times I ever really saw her lose it on him) drove me to the DPS office where I passed my test; then drove me, my freshly minted receipt/TDL in my pocket, over to his buddy Kermit’s house. Mr. Lochte, as I called him, had a 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer (it had a hemi!) that he had bought new; charcoal and salmon, with a cream top and black interior. $200. Dad drove me up, I was busy looking at the car and talking to Mr. Lochte, and Dad burned rubber getting away—leaving me to drive my “new” car home. This one’s almost identical, I wish I had it now!!!
From that day until around 1980, I didn’t own a bike (Dad sold the Schwinn in a garage sale). With the huge success of the movie “Breaking Away” in 1979 (still a great movie), my entire generation had to have Italian racing bikes!!! 10 speeds, handlebars curved under, you had to lean down like you were racing—and couldn’t see the road at all unless you craned your neck. Skinny tires and one errant pebble could bring you down. Like everyone else, I rode mine 10 or 12 times and then it sat in the walk-in closet of my upstairs apartment (you had to get it out, drag it through the apartment, down the stairs, then ride on busy streets, then drag it back upstairs and figure out how to fit it back in the closet) until the tires rotted and I sold it for maybe $20. (Remember taking a piece of notebook paper, taping a pic to it, then making little tear-off tabs at the bottom with your name and phone number on it, and posting it on the bulletin board at the apartment laundry?).
Decades later, when Nathan and I moved to Houston and he got very into biking (it’s how he met his wife), I borrowed my brother-in-law’s 10-speed and tried to keep up, but (1) Nathan is 26 years younger than I am and (2) he had a Specialized Expedition while I had a broken down 10-speed. It hurt my back and I quit.
Which brings us to the present. I haven’t been on a bike in 6 years, and then only 2 or 3 times; before that only 10 or 12 times in the 80’s, so REALLY I haven’t ridden a bike since 1973—and that’s 40 years (my God…).
You don’t forget how (really) to balance, but you DO forget a lot of little things. For example, if two cars are meeting on a narrow but busy street, you can just stop till they get past.
No, not yours truly, I plowed ahead into a slick muddy patch and down I slid.
As I say, the only thing hurt was pride, and I got over that a long time ago.
Today was a good day! Terry Hershey Park! (Some of the slow time, the trail meanders up and down and I had to pedal hard—even with 21 speeds—it’s like this, I don’t want to give myself a heart attack…not terrible for my 4th time out).