Sunday, January 15, 2012

biking down memory lane

Its funny sometimes what triggers memories. When the memories are good ones, especially the nostalgic ones of those by gone days of childhood its even better.

Growing up my mother took my grandmother 'to town' on Saturdays. It was their day. Now I'm taking my mother on shopping trips and these are our times. We went out for a while today, both of us needing a few things, but mostly needing a few minutes away. We ended up at one of the places we always seem to find ourselves. After strolling around picking up a couple of things we found ourselves in the area that was gradually transferring back to the garden center. As we wandered up and down the aisles we glanced at the clearance items and talked about the new colors for cushions for outdoor furniture. It was as I turned away from the cushions that I first noticed it. Propped up by its kickstand- the bicycle from my childhood. A soft green frame with cream colored fenders it had the handlebars that came up and out. Handlebars with no brake or gear levers. It has one speedsetter- the power of the rider. It was a sight to behold. Mom simply stood and watched as I approached the bike and couldn't help myself. I had to get on that bike. When I did, so many memories came flooding back.

Graduating from a tricycle to a bicycle with training wheels. Nervous as the bigger bike wobbled as I adjusted to the new size and different style of riding. Then, moving up once again to a two-wheeler as the training wheels were removed. Once I learned balance nothing could stop me. There is a special sense of freedom when you are young and riding a bike. It is your first real taste of mobility. To be able to ride at those amazing speeds. to lift your hands from the handlebars and feel daring and brave. To turn that bike into what ever form of transportation the mind and imagination allowed. To feel the wind blowing against your face and through your hair was something incredibly special. After the rains to ride with legs extended (or not) through the puddles, creating a spray of water in every direction and mud splatters all the way up your legs. We rode without helmets or protective padding of any sort. Many times we rode without shoes- the days of youth, innocence and fun. The Dirt Road was our race track, our route to the untamed west, it was a parade route and the road simply from here to there. We would even from time to time ride our bikes on Dare Devil Hill, but being that they still had brakes we usually saved them for the road.

We did as any other kid with a bike did. We decorated them with streamers and playing cards and what ever other decoration fit our mood at the moment. We pulled wagons, we paraded, we traveled the Dirt Road and all of the paths that we could maneuver on. We put hundreds of miles on those bikes. All of those years ago.

Sitting there on that bike I longed to recapture that, or at least a part of it. I wanted to be able to ride, simply ride without the frustration of trying to figure out which gear worked best at going up this slight hill and which worked best at stopping and which brake lever worked which brake. I want simplicity. I wanted, the good ole days, or at least the semblance of those days that this bike could bring.

I didn't buy the bike. Sadly like many others with budgets and concerns of the responsibilities that come with being an adult in this day and time, had me getting off the bike and walking away. For a few minutes it was fun looking back and dreaming. Who knows, if its meant to be, I will have that bike and the chance to relive just a few of those memories from way back when...

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