Quite awhile ago, my daughter put up a poll on DeviantArt asking something about learning to ride a bike without training wheels. I remarked that I never had training wheels and asked if I’d ever told her the story of when I learned how to ride a bike. Turns out I hadn’t and I’ve had her request to tell the story sitting on my messages page on DeviantArt for **ages** now.
Maybe I have it as a stereotype in my head, but when I think of kids learning to ride a bike, I think of a patient and loving parent or family member helping to guide the bike along and letting go when the kid is ready. Or kids on bikes with training wheels getting a feel for how it’s supposed to work. My sister tried hard to be that loving and patient family member for me – and I think we tried several times, but her bike was much larger than what I could cope with (as in higher off the ground), and truth be told, I don’t think either one of us had the patience for the other.
No, my story is that of a very bored kid on a Saturday morning with nothing better to do. It was one of those weekends I was spending at my Dad’s house in Saginaw. Dad was at work – not very far away at all – it was less than a block to the drug store he worked at. Two of my brothers and my sister were sleeping in – they were all very much older than me so were teenagers at the time. My other sister had stayed with my Mom where I normally lived. I hated these weekends. My ‘other’ siblings who lived at my Dads, being teens, were like the weirdest people. I was often bored. They used to lock me in the attic at times just for the heck of it… which I found interesting as there was cool stuff up there. (I’m such a geek).
So it was a quiet Saturday morning and I’d already checked out all the usual things that kept me occupied and the only other thing I could think of was getting my brothers bike that was in the basement and taking it upstairs and outside to play on. I’m almost positive I didn’t have any permission from my brother to do that, but you know, I was bored. I also can’t imagine how I got the bike up the stairs, but I must have. Steve’s bike was low to the ground in comparison to Pam’s. I could sit on the seat and my feet would reach the ground. So I sat on the bike and used my feet to push it around the block. I think I was on my 2nd trip around the block when a few older boys went by, riding their bikes on the street. They came back around and teased me about pushing the bike with my legs instead of riding it like a normal person. That bit of teasing apparently was all I needed. I was hurt, angry and thought I’ll show you! And I rode that bike for three quarters of a block – to the front of my Dad’s house, when I realised I had no idea how to stop! I ended up riding the bike into a tree. I fell down and laughed. I got back up and back on and spent probably the entire day riding that bike around the block. Did I get in trouble for using Steve’s bike? I have no idea. I don’t remember. All I remember was being elated that I’d learned how to ride a bike – on my own – without help, aside from the nudge of 3 kids teasing me.
This new skill prompted a new problem when I got back home to my Mom’s place. We lived in Shields, on Gratiot Rd, which was very busy and there were no sidewalks. I know it was a heck of a dilemma for my mother who wanted to keep me safe and yet let me enjoy my new found joy. Somehow I managed to learn the rules and no, I never even had any near misses that I’m aware of, but I sure biked everywhere after that. There really wasn’t any stopping me.
Later my brother gave me that bike after he’d fixed it up. It was blue and had a banana seat, those old handle bars that were more Y shaped than a regular bike, and an extra long black fork in front. It was the COOLEST bike ever!
So, my dearest Kerstin, that is how I learned to ride a bike.