Bikes and Being

When I was very young, I had a tricycle. I don’t really know if I imagine this, but I remember that this was the biggest tricycle around…bigger than any other kid’s tricycle. My trike was decked out with a Tigeroo (with the furry tail attached to the back). We lived out in the country on a very busy road, so there were few places to ride. But, I remember that I loved riding that tricycle in our driveway, roaring around like a king of the concrete.

As a young adolescent, I had a two-wheeler with sissy handlebars and a gold banana seat. That was true love. Growing up in Pittsburgh, one learns quickly about hills. I used to walk up about a half mile hill (the bike had one speed – Jeff speed) just to get to this area of streets that was totally flat and I would ride around the blocks for hours. Eventually, I gave my golden stallion to my nephews. But, I never forgot that bike or the countless rides on Osage and Valleyview Drives.

I have not ridden much as an adult. Bicycle riding stopped being fun when it became exercise; it stopped being fun when the seat resembled a medieval torture device; it stopped being fun when it contorted my body into the position of a human torpedo; and it stopped being fun when maintaining a bike became as difficult as maintaining my car. All I should have to worry about is keeping air in the tires and slapping some grease on a chain occasionally — that’s it.

Walking to work today, I passed a bike that gleamed in the morning light, reminding me of my golden beauty of yore. I experienced a nostalgic pang for those days of my youth when riding my bike meant just being alone and thinking. I wasn’t burning calories or fine tuning a finely crafted investment. I sat upright in comfort and weaved a path along the cracks in the asphalt under a canopy of elms and buckeye trees.

Riding my bike trained me for managing the rigors of adult life. Whether I am pushing a shopping cart, mowing the grass, or driving down a highway, I can send my mind into that time of simplicity on wheels. Maybe someday, I’ll create a park with nothing but winding bike trails and no-speed bikes with sissy handlebars and banana seats for everyone. And Tigeroos, too.