Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Rides

I had intended to write about my experience riding to a baseball game on Monday, but those plans got cancelled to due to weather, it literally rained the whole day and night and even if I had a bike with fenders, I don't yet although I have plans for the Passage, I am not sure I would have ridden. I took transit instead.   I have a friend who also lives in West Seattle and is a regular bike commuter, he is a few years older than I am and much wiser, he told me once while discussing commuting "I will ride in the rain, and I will ride in the dark, but I won't ride in the rain and the dark".  A good philosophy and one I took to heart last night, it was also 48 degrees so dark, cold and wet.  The bike to the ballpark experiment will have to wait for the next half price ticket night, June 6th, which I hope will be warmer and drier.

I was reading an article over at Bicycle Times  and it mentioned something about learning to ride and it sparked some memories for me,

Apparently in my early days I was a fan of the ape hangers, must have caught a glimpse of an Easy Rider movie poster.

Later on it was trikes, I have realized later in life, that according to bike industry sizing, my legs are too short for my height, and this picture proves it has always been this way.  I suspect that this was one of my siblings old trikes and it was just a photo-op prop.

I went through a Go-kart phase too.  Actually this was a fun memory, I got this for my 5th birthday and family legend has it that my dad was out in the garage cursing, um I mean wrenching to put this go-kart together until the wee hours on the eve of my birthday so it would be all ready to go on that sunny, summer morning in 1969.  I was as sick as a dog on my birthday so I got the rare and unexpected privilege of getting to ride my new go-kart in the HOUSE!  I don't recall much of the being sick part but I sure remember tearing around the house on my new toy.

The real memory the article sparked though was of my first ride on a two wheeler, a hand me down Schwinn Sting Ray which as I recall had a big chunk taken out of the seat like some rabid possum had tried to chow on it, but it was cool, it was copper colored, the seat cover had that sparkle fleck in in it that was so popular at the time- and it was all mine.   I don't recall any training wheels or training sessions to learn to ride, but what I do remember was walking to the bottom of the hill we lived on to the flat part of the street with my Dad, mounting up and pedaling like mad, him pushing me with his hand on the rear of the banana seat.  I am sure in reality there was no one out on the side walk that day or perhaps one or two neighbors but I have a different and vivid memory..

I have this image of neighbors lining the sidewalk and cheering me on as, unbeknownst to me my Dad had let go and was running along behind yelling encouragement. One thing we had not discussed was turning, and my first solo ended with me running into the back of a neighbors parked camping trailer because I could only go straight, but I shook it off, I could ride a two wheeler!

The other memory it sparked was me teaching my daughter to ride, this is her flying along on her first geared bike at about age 8 or 9, I smile every time I look at this picture, it was a fun day with friends but mostly its my girl gliding along comfortable and at ease on her bike (that she was outgrowing!).

She learned to ride with a combination of training wheels and a home brew coaster bike, a freebie that I removed the crank from, and she had a lot of practice with her razor scooter too which I think helped her sense of balance.  We would practice at the local grade school be cause they had a big flat blacktop and in our neighborhood the street had an incline and uneven sidewalks.  One day as I am unloading her bike at the grade school she says "Dad can we take the little wheels off?"  I was both proud of my girl for wanting to move up to riding for real and panicked as I am not sure I have any tools with me but I scrounge up an adjustable wrench from the trunk and off the little wheels come.  Like my Dad before me I run along behind her and hold her seat and then I let go and she is going solo, what made this moment even more memorable is that the kids at the grade school had painted a mural of a map of the USA on the black top so my Daughters first solo ride was right across the states.  No pictures because I was so in the moment I didn't even think to try and take one.

This is fathers day from 6 years ago, we'll have to do it again.  Learn to Ride. Smile. Repeat.

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