the first concrete memory i associate with a bike is when i got my bigwheel for christmas when i was 2 or 3. it was a pink and purple bigwhel that actually lasted quite a while, as myself and my siblings all used it, rotating our little legs to try to get the hard plastic get a grip on the gravel in our driveway, until it was a faded greyish white plastic remnant no one could fit into anymore.
another early memory of a bike was riding down our long driveway to get the mail with my dad on his bike. his bike had a metal carrier on the back, and he would set me on it, telling me to keep my legs up and clear of the back wheel. i remember it was a hazy day – it may have been sunset, with the low sun shining yellow-orange on our east-west road. then i remember a mess, because i hadn’t upheld my end of the bargain and my foot got caught in the spokes of the back wheel. we went to the ER, where i don’t remember a lot besides bright overhead lights. i didn’t break anything.
the rest of my bike time is relatively fuzzy. i know i got my first two-wheeler for christmas, but i don’t remember it. there were training wheels, then there was one training wheel, then there were none. i know it was pink, and at some point i put those little brightly colored plastic spoke beads on my wheels that made me not only cool, but also added a musical element to tooling around the driveway. i had an old brown secondhand bike for a while after i outgrew my pink bike, and after the barn burned down (for which i was NOT responsible! woo!), one of the first things my dad and i did was go to the bike shop and buy me a new bike. it was the early 90s, right around the time road bikes were on the way out and mountain bikes were on the way in. i remember the bike guy trying to convince me to get the mountain bike he made me read the full guide here in hopes that I would jump on board. unfortunately i was not a pioneer, and i got a nice, sleek, purple road bike to be like all my friends. after about 3-4 years of riding it, i never rode the road bike again (much, i think, to my dad’s chagrin).
a few memorable bike events:
1. the catholic school walkathon/bikeathon was held every year, and my friends and i would bike the 12-mile loop around the eastern edge of austin to raise money for catholic schools.
2. one hot summer day, we were planning on going swimming, and it must have been at marty handsome’s house, because liz and i were biking eastward from our house with plastic garbage bags with a towel and change of clothes dangling from our handlebars. somehow my plastic bag whipped into the spokes (those dang wheels!) and stopped my bike cold. i flipped over the front handlebars and nailed my chin on the asphalt.
3. many trips to southeastern minnesota were had to take a trip on the root river bike trail, seemingly spending all day doing so.