There are so many childhood memories that involve bikes and cycling, and they always manage to put a smile on my dial when I think back to those days of freedom, and yes, some stupidity. Being young and stupid has advantages, now, I really don’t have an excuse, but I still manage to pull of some not so smart moves on the bike.
My first childhood memory of a bike of any type was the one I owned when I was 4 years old. It was sent over from Italy for my birthday, and had to be assembled by my father and an uncle. I’m sure this wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but at least the instructions would have been in Italian, and not written by the people who write install manuals for IKEA.
It was bright red, had a set of trainer wheels, which only stayed on for a very short time, a few weeks was all I needed before I was on two wheels. There were colourful ribbons streaming out from both the hand grips, and both the wheels had bright reflectors attached to the spokes.
It seemed as if I had found my passion in sports at a very young age. Even though I never raced for a team, I eventually participated in a number of long distance events for charity. For me, in the end, that small bike with trainer wheels was life changing, and in more ways that I could ever imagine.
My recollections of that bike in the first few days, are still clear in my mind, I rode up and down the sideway of our property in the burbs. Up and down in a straight line, and when I reached the end of the sideway, I would get off the bike, turn it around, get back on and pedal back down to the start I did this over and over until I got the hang of turning around in the tight space at both ends.
Once I had mastered the straight line riding, my father added a set of obstacles along the sideway for me to navigate around. This took me more time than I would have thought. But then, I was a four year old child.
Without the training wheels, I was able to zip around the obstacles in a few short weeks. Much to my parents delight. I now had a way of keeping myself amused for hours on end and on my own. No need for daytime TV.
I was eventually allowed to go out onto the streets and down the road to visit my aunt, who lived no more than 15 houses down the street. It was still an adventure, no matter the distance.
The bike gave me something I didn’t have much of; freedom. It allowed me to go places further than the wheels allowed. It set off my imagination and transported me to any destination my mind permitted.
I hung onto that bike for number of years until I had well and truly grown out of it, and it wasn’t long before I had a bigger bike. One that was purchased from a local shop just down the road. And with that bike, the real adventures began with my friends in the street. But those are stories for another time.
Some memories stay with us until the day we die, for one reason or another. Some are good, and some are bad. We need to treasure the memories that continue to make us smile as the days go by. Because in the end, all we will have are memories.