My First Bicycle

my bike before

Girl’s bicycle

Psalm 37:24  (Loosely applied)

My first bicycle was a girl’s bicycle.  In 1967, that was not cool.  Most pastors like my dad were paid a marginal salary, so things like bicycles and large toys were lower on the priority list than things like groceries and gas.  As a result, my first bicycle was a hand-me-down, like many of my clothes. My sister had it first, and it wasn’t new when she got it. My parent’s got it at a garage sale, and those were very important enterprises for families like ours.  At any rate, the bike was handed down to me when she outgrew it.

I need to first explain to millennial readers the difference between a girl’s bike and a boy’s bike.  On a boy’s bike, there is a bar that runs from the top of the handlebar yoke to the top of the seat bracket.  On a girl’s bike, the bar drops down from the handlebars to just above the pedals.  As an inquisitive boy, I never quite figured that out. In fact, I could imagine anatomical reasons why that was not a good idea.  Later, I realized that the bar dropping on a girl’s bike was based in a culture of days gone by.  Most young people rode bicycles for transportation, from their childhood into their twenties.  At that time, however, it was unseemly for a young lady to be in public wearing pants. They wore shin-length skirts.  Since a boy’s bicycle had that bar, it was cumbersome and risque for a young lady to swing her leg over the seat to mount the bike, like one might mount a horse.  Therefore, the bar was lowered, so she could step through the middle and simply sit on the seat as her skirt rested on the bar.

Now that you have the history and rationale for the unique designs of the respective two-wheelers, you must know I was more motivated to have transportation than I was by bowing to peer-pressure.  I had a plan.  To compensate for the missing top bar, I decided I would have my own garage sale, after which the proceeds would fund a customization of the bike.  Fortunately, it was already red, my favorite color. I would customize the handlebars, the seat, and the wheels.

First, I removed the wide touring handlebars. I purchased “spider” handlebars, that rise sharply, then drop down, like a chopper motorcycle.  Next, I removed the old saddle-style seat and installed a long “banana” seat. (You can ride two, if a girl agrees to sit behind you.)  Finally, I removed the wheels, but that is where things got sticky.  I had spent all my money on the handlebars and seat and had none left for the wheels.  I really wanted whitewall tires.  With no alternative, I reluctantly replaced the wheels.  Something happened that would become a regular occurrence in my mechanical endeavors. I had a part leftover, but I couldn’t figure out where it belonged.  Everything seemed to work, though, so I dismissed any concern. The final step was to attach playing cards to the spokes with clothes pins.  That way the wheels made a nice rat-a-tat-tat, as I rode down the street.

Once the customization was complete, I rode, and rode, loud and proud on my Huffy….Davidson.  And what was I proud of?  My very economical, self-customized bicycle and my new found skill of riding a wheelie, front wheel in the air, blowing in the breeze.  I could ride a wheelie for three blocks!  One day, as I was riding one of my world famous wheelies, the front wheel dropped off the fork and rolled down the street in front of me. At that moment, there were two realizations that almost simultaneously struck me.  1. I now knew where that leftover part went.  2. In that moment, I knew gravity would win at some point, and I was suddenly GLAD my bicycle was a girl’s bike.

boys bike

Boy’s bicycle

Published in: on June 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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