Yesterday's Magazette

3 – Riding A Bike

Riding A Bike, Then and Now

By William S. Easton

They say that once you’ve learned how to ride a bicycle, you never forget.

For me, learning wasn’t so easy, and now, sixty-five years later, I remember how, but my body sometimes forgets. Such as when I stopped while on a group ride upon seeing some familiar faces and forgot to put a foot on the ground. Result: a fractured elbow and painful completion of the route.

I got my first bike, a two wheeler, at age seven. I probably had tried out one of my older brothers’ bikes without permission, but I remember my pride at having and being able to ride a bike of my own. I don’t recall the make of that first one, but the second, I’m sure, was a Western Flyer because there was a Western Auto store in our community. 

 

Once I had gotten the hang of balancing, peddling, braking by back peddling coaster brakes, and steering straight, I rode all over town. I remember, and if I didn’t my brothers would remind me, the time when I  attempted  to ride “no hands” and “eyes closed” simultaneously. Result: a crash into a parked car. I received sympathy from my parents for my bumps and scrapes, brothers’ advice to stay off bikes, while my concern was to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Another embarrassing time happened when I had ventured to the other side of town for a planned day long game of baseball. Of course, my ball glove hung on the handle bars, and perhaps I had a favorite bat clutched across those bars. However, when we pre-teenagers tried to chew from a tobacco plug purloined from someone’s father, I returned home much earlier than expected complaining, “I don’t feel so good.”

I last saw the bike of my youth as it lay disassembled on a church basement floor. I had hoped to reassemble it as part of a biking scout merit badge. I never did, nor did I get that badge. But I got enough other badges to achieve the Eagle Scout rank.

Later, with two children of my own, I spent time bent over helping them maintain balance as they learned to ride their first bikes. That resulted in back pain, but nothing as discomforting as crashing into a car or swallowing tobacco juice.

After the children outgrew their bikes, and I entered middle-age, I bought another bike and resumed riding. It was an Italian made Cineli, acquired secondhand from a college student who had ridden across Europe and hated to part with it. Although it had more gears than I would ever use, brakes applied from the handlebars, and equipment unknown when I got my first one, I found that I had not forgotten how to mount a ride. I have spent many pleasurable hours on and off the saddle. I was able to finish my first Century ride (100 miles) through the wind and hills of Nova Scotia. Now I have exchanged a road bike for a “Comfort Bike” where I can sit upright, better on the back, but not fast enough for any more long rides.

YM:Easton1b

Albert Einstein wisely said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Mark Twain, not as wise, but more sardonic said: “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.”

*William is a retired attorney now living and riding in Michigan although his learning years were in rural upstate New York.

He contributes to a state history magazine and has had a few short stories published.

Vol. 38 No. 2 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette


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