5/12/2005

Bicycles

I taught myself to ride a bicycle out at the farm on the Uncle's old steel frame 26" boy's bike. It wasn't the easiest thing I ever did.

The old wooden porch of their farm house ran parallel to the driveway. The driveway had a little rise and then a gentle slope toward the gravel road that lead to town. Across the road was the mail box, then a shallow ditch and behind that farmland that went on forever. There wasn't much traffic and a car raised so much dust in the summer that you could see them coming a long way off.

As I was only about 3 feet tall myself, I had to push the bike with my hands up over my head. The leverage and control left something to be desired. I'd wrestle it across the gravel drive over to the edge of the porch. I would turn it around and get it pointed toward the road but really close to the porch. This could take a lot of "backing and filling".

I had to balance the bike with one hand while I climbed up on the porch. I would get a hold of both hand grips, throw my leg over the bar, get my butt over the seat then gently push the bike up and forward from the edge of the porch with one foot. It had to be done just right; too hard and you would go all the way over; too gently and you fell back against the porch. Do it just right and the bike would stand up and roll forward.

If I got it right then I had to shift to whichever side the "up pedal" was on, stretch my leg as far as it would go and catch the pedal with my toes. My butt would slide off the seat as I shoved the pedal forward as hard as I could. When it was almost so low I was sitting on the bar I would give a little hop and catch the other pedal as it came up. Bobbing over to that side I would shove it down.

I'd be bouncing back and forth over the cross bar,pushing pedals a quarter turn because my legs were too short to reach. When the bike would reach the top of the little rise I could push a pedal one more time, hop my but up on the seat and let it coast to the end of the driveway. I would be savoring my success as the wind lifted my damp hair up off my neck and forehead. This lasted about 3 seconds.

The idea was that I would make a u turn and ride the bike back to the porch and dismount. Reality was I usually got about a foot short of the road, twisted the handle bars in an attempt to turn and got dumped in the gravel.

I would lay there a second, looking at the clouds and catching my breath. Eventually I would crawl out from under the bike, wrestle it up on it's tires, get a hold of the handle bar and the cross bar and push it back up the driveway to try again.

This kept me out of the way for a couple hours everytime we visited. Back at home, I would watch bigger kids riding their bikes and turning, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

When a kid decides it wants to learn something they can really show some spunk! I'll bet I landed on my butt in the dirt a hundred times that summer. Then POOF - one time I eased the handle bars to the right and THEN back to the left to make that turn, and, with my little bum right on the bar almost, I stood on the pedals, stretching the left leg all the way down and then the right one, bobbing like a cork, first down on the left then up, over and down on the right. I made it back up the hill! After I did it once it was like I had been doing it forever! I was riding

I made it clear back to the porch!! It was more like jumping rope than riding a bike, the way I had to pop over the cross bar to catch the pedals, but it was going and I was doing it!

I ran into the house all excited and asked if I could borrow the bike to ride to Great Grama's house, I can ride it all by myself now, PLEASE!! Grama must have said yes because I remember the way my heart pounded from excitment. I was going to REALLY ride the bike! I recall the hot, dusty smell of the gravel and the sound of it crunching under the tires. All I saw was the front wheel because if I tipped it over I would have to go all the way back to the porch to get on again.

I made it, slowing way down and pretty much falling off when I got there. It seemed like I was there in just a minute, I was going so fast (compared to walking!). I went in and told Great Grama all about it and she came out to watch me push the bike to her porch and set off for Grama's. She waved good bye to me but I couldn't let go to wave back, so I just smiled at her over my shoulder and kept riding.

I was smiling all the way thinking NOW Mom and Dad would get me my OWN two wheeler! I wanted a red one!

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