14 Sep My Earliest Cycling Memory
Looking back on a life with bikes
We lived in New Hampshire, I must have been around 5 years old, and we had a long driveway with a nice, spacious square of tarmac in front of the garage. My two brothers and I spent a lot of time playing outside on bikes or in the woods, in what seems now like that kind of idyllic 80s childhood. We even had a red Radio Flyer wagon. I had a purple barbie bike with streamers coming from the handlebars. Apparently I chose this bike but I don’t believe it; I can’t stand girly, frilly things. What I really had my eye on was my older brother’s black ‘street demon’ BMX. Unencumbered by training wheels, he and his friend would set up jumps and disappear down the street for what seemed like forever (it was probably ten minutes in reality).
That BMX bike lasted years, and a few house moves later we would take turns to jump into the river on it. By that time I had a generic, neon pink, cheap mountain bike (why the pink again?). My friends and I went everywhere by bike, taking picnics, a radio, our swimming gear. My memories merge into one hazy summer escapade that incorporates every favorite snack, spot and funny story. I think perhaps that bicycle got stolen because at some point I moved on to using my dad’s hybrid, with more gears, and a speedometer! Ah the thrill of knowing how fast you were going down that steep hill. Except that I was no longer using the bike to set out on great adventures, but to commute to my part time job because the local buses were so terrible. Invariably I would leave too early and not be able to pace myself, powering full speed ahead the whole way. Arriving red faced and with half an hour to kill, I would sit by the river and read a book whilst waiting for the store to open.
I really treasure those memories, though I am quite likely looking back through rose tinted glasses. Bicycles brought me freedom, a sense of independence and adventure. Now I’m a city girl with more practical concerns, like keeping my bike indoors so it won’t get stolen or rusted. That’s where folding bikes came into the mix. A perfect fit as my needs moved on from dumping my cheap old workhorse in the back yard, to investing time and money into something that would enhance my life.
I took my driving test in my mid twenties, just in case. But I proudly still don’t own a car and have no plans to. I think it’s pretty clear though that I’m going to own a few more bikes.