It was a little after noon time this Christmas Day as my wife and I were walking our dog I saw a very cool thing. A young girl, perhaps about 9 or 10, was riding a bike. It looked very new so I just had to ask, and yes it was a Christmas present! When she answered her face lit up as a child’s face should on Christmas Day. Her Mom running along behind her said with a laugh,”She had to get out and put a few miles on it!”
Now being a stream of consciousness sorta guy, I had immediately had several runs of thought. The only “new” bike I got was when I was about 9 or 10 also. It was to replace the early 1950’s Balloon Tire Columbia I had been riding and had to grow in to. Even though my Columbia out weighed me by about double, and I nearly always finished last in any race, I liked it. Mostly because it never ever broke, the chain stayed on, tubes held air, etc.
My first real new bike was a three speed Columbia with a new fangled twist grip 3 speed shifter (See photo for a close example. Mine was red). Although not exactly what I would have picked out, I was very excited to get this bike, thanks Mom & Dad. However, it lasted about 2 years before the twist shifter broke. Because it was stuck in 3rd gear I had my first “single speed”. It was just easier to just cut the shifter wire off, repairs and parts were too expensive. A year or so later I ended up stripping the fenders off and it was closer to a road bike look that I had only seen in pictures. But that bike served me to delivering the Boston Globe 6 days a week to about 50 homes in my neighborhood. I think I made about $2.00 per week.
It was a couple of years later that I had my first job, dish washer at a local fried fish restaurant. So I got to earn minimum wage, at that time was $1.30 per hour, for washing hundreds of dishes, pots pans etc. all by hand. I worked about 10 or hours per week, so it wasn’t long before I was able to purchase MY very own first bike, a Mercier. Back in the day it was one of the finest bicycles matched only by Peugeots and other European makers. Boy did I feel on top of the world!
So this past Thursday I had suddenly remembered the great excitement of those long ago Christmas and early spring days. All brought back for a quick minute by a young girl all but squealing with excitement as she put her first miles on her new bike! Who said that the Christmas Spirit was lost?
There are many things we remember, but is there anything as exciting as a new bicycle waiting to take us wherever we want to go? And especially as a child it seemed that the world was open to our travels. I rode that Mercier for the better part of 5- 6 years before I was able to buy my own car. And to put on hundreds of miles per week was normal.
Later in life I rode a motorcycle on many a cross country trip for many years and I have to say nothing can match that except, yep a bicycle. Why you may ask? Because even on a motorcycle you miss things, like the smile of child on her first ride on her new bicycle.
Ride more. See more!