Ah, the bicycle! What kid didn’t have one? Back when children actually participated in exercise (you know, that activity where your body parts actually went outside to do a multitude of sports?) most of us in the neighborhood had bikes.
As a toddler, I first had a tricycle, but my mom eventually donated it to the Goodwill. I remember being devastated like Orson Wells in “Citizen Kane” when his beloved Rosebud went missing. Without wheels, I remember feeling very betrayed that my red tricycle was gone.
But a few years later, I got my first bicycle. Mine arrived on Christmas. I think it was an emerald green Schwinn with training wheels propped on the side of it. Both Teresa and I received one and I’m sure they were a major expense for a mother strapped with six children.
We used to ride up and down Pacoima Court for hours, and along the sidewalks on Laurel Canyon and onto Laurel Lane. Gradually, the training wheels would be raised, until we were soon riding on two wheels, with the training wheels simply there for moral support.
There were so many popular bicycles during those times. Stingrays were one make I remember vividly. With their banana shaped seats, they evoked a sense of coolness to any bicycle owner. One of my neighbors had one, and I remember being very jealous.
When Teresa and I got into high school, we managed to convince my mom that bicycles for the two of us would be a good investment. I’m sure she thought we were nuts. What kid wants to ride a bike? Wasn’t the pressure from us to get a car enough?
But we were ecology advocates, and soon we were cycling our three-speed bikes along Ventura Blvd. to Colfax and up the street to North Hollywood High.
In college, I had a multitude of 10-speeds, riding through Isla Vista to UCSB. But these were more modern inventions, not like those vintage wheels from my youth.
Nothing compares to that first bicycle and the scrapes you endure while learning how to ride.