TownLine Motorsports CFMOTO PowerFest April-May 2024

THROUGH THE WOODS: The blue bicycle

Photo contributed

ST. PATRICK’S DAY is a great time to celebrate, and for me, it is a double celebration because it is also my birthday. I have a drop of Scottish Duncan blood, but my Irish friends let me be Irish and wear some green for the day. There have been many special birthdays, but my ninth birthday was a particularly memorable one because I had been begging my parents for a bicycle. Anticipation and excitement over anything like this are intense at this age. March 17 dawned and the view out the window was shocking. During the night there was a blizzard and five-foot-deep drifts of powdery snow lay behind the house.

Our family home was created from two houses, the original one and another moved and adjoined to it. The resulting house had a large L-shaped porch which was a great roller skating rink. This was fortunate because that day’s gift was my first bicycle. It was so beautiful and who cared if it was secondhand from who knew where, it was found by my father for me. It was shiny and newly painted a favorite shade of blue by my mother, and I loved it. It was one speed with those back-pedaling brakes and had fat balloon tires.

It was a jumping up and down exciting time, and there was no waiting to try it out. The porch was lightly drifting with snow but I got the bike out there and sat on it dreaming of the freedom and status it represented. Wheels are important, from tricycles to roller skates to bikes to cars. Straddling the bike we rolled back and forth to the limits of the porch and learned about brakes, and balance until it was too cold to stay out any longer.

Eventually, spring arrived, the snow melted, and the driveway was the next area to try. This driveway was fairly long and flat at the top and then dropped steeply down to the dirt road and our main barn. The flat area was working well so down the drive I went. As the speed increased fear took over and the brakes were forgotten. The seldom-traveled road was crossed without mishap and suddenly there were three strands of barbed wire fence on the other side. The indestructible blue bicycle stopped and I shot over the handlebars and by extreme luck went straight through between the wires (how wonderfully skinny I was). The pasture was fairly soft for the landing and resulted in only a few scrapes and bruises. No one saw the humiliating event and more practice finally paid off with confidence and skill.

Regular trips could be made to and from Gram’s farm up the road. It was heaven to ride with our few neighbor kids and we learned to put cards in the wheel spokes to make noise and pretended we rode motorcycles.

Next was the extra lawn mowing for money to buy those neat plastic streamers for the handlebar grips and a useful bag behind the seat. We carried things like baseball trading cards and sandwiches in the bike bags, and I don’t remember ever taking water or anything to drink. We didn’t know about hydration back then, and we used to drink from the numerous area streams. We never got sick from it either.

The summer vacation was a series of rendezvous and adventures until Chatham Fair time. Our poor parents left the four of us siblings with our grandparents and took some time between milking cows for a mini vacation of their own. All was well until I made a high-speed barefoot loop around Gram’s driveway and cut too close to the bank. My left big toe caught in a tree root and the blue bike went on while I hung by the toe on the ground. Parents were paged home and a broken and very painful bruised toe was iced. Limping back to school was fine and the awful tale could be told many times to my groaning friends. The blue bike was upgraded to a fancy three-speed, but birthday number 9, the blue bike, and that summer were never forgotten.

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