Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Want to Ride a Bicycle, I Want to Ride a Bike

The Food Bank Director and his wife are hard-core cyclists. He just passed 5,000 miles on the odometer on his commuter bike, and he and his wife didn't even own a car until a baby was about to arrive. Without baby, they ride bicycles everywhere. The other day he was telling me about the LikeABike. It's a wooden bicycle without pedals that a toddler can push with his or her feet. They plan to get one for baby as soon as he can stand stand up on his own. This bike helps kids learn how to balance, the hard part, before they learn how to ride, the easy part.

Talking about teaching someone how to ride a bike made me think of how I learned to ride one shortly after I turned six. I think it was spring, but winters in San Francisco are so mild that it could have been then. For Christmas, I had received a wonderful pink Schwinn Flyer with a sparkly purple banana seat, tassels on the handles, and a white basket with a pink and purple flower on the front. This description makes me think it is probably the girliest thing I've ever owned that wasn't a dress.

I'd been riding it with one foot on the ground for several months prior; that bike never did have training wheels. I can't remember but J Jump Joyful may have been bike riding by then; certainly her older brother was. We all had vehicles, of course, tricycles and Big Wheels and these things that looked like yellow rafts with wheels and I had a red plastic riding mower with pedals and No had a blue-green plastic sport car with pedals that our parents had had shipped back from France when we came back to the States. We all rode around and around in circles in the big room downstairs, guided by the stoplight my father had found somewhere.

All of us kids must have been there but I only remember JJJ, her dad, and myself at the Panhandle the day I learned to ride the bike on my own. I saw the acorns on the ground and worried that they would "trip" the wheels on the bike. This sounds like a such a cliche, but I really did feel like I was flying as I pedaled, faster and faster, and I felt the bike release from JJJ's dad's hands and I saw the handle tassels stream out and it was no wonder they called it a Flyer!

The section of Panhandle where I learned to ride a beautiful pink and purple bicycle.

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