Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, July 6, 2013

On a Bicycle Built for Me

Bygone days . . .
My daughter and I are looking for new bicycles.
And the irony is just sickening.
Let me tell you why . . .
I was five and quite ready to move up from the tricycle that had served me well. I was ready learn to ride a two-wheeler.
I could ride almost anything with four legs and, on the ranch, the choices there were nearly endless.
But when it came to bicycles, I had . . . less.
Choices, that is.
There was my older brother's bike. But the bar made the fact that I was short and couldn't sit on the seat, impossible.
The one that was closest to my size was ‘Alfred’, my brother George’s bike.
It was a hand-me-over from our oldest brother, Jerry, and had already gone many, many miles.
Been refurbished and set to go many, many more.
Younger brother on 'Alfred'. Handed down again.
But it was out of bounds for me.
Because.
That left the bigger bike.
Mom’s classic.
The old green one with the balloon tires.
The one that stood almost taller than my head.
There was no way I could remotely come near to sitting on the seat, but I discovered I could manage nicely if I just stood on the pedals.
The whole time I was riding.
The amazing thing is, for the behemoth it was, that bike was astonishingly easy to ride.
And a fantastic bike to learn on.
In no time, I was whizzing up and down the tree-lined drive, pumping madly as I tried to keep up with my
fleeter, older brother.
I don’t remember actually riding it when I could reach the seat and the pedals at the same time, but for a few years, that bike and I were good company.
My brother perched on my gold beauty
(sans tassels)
Until Dad brought home a solid gold beauty.
Just for me.
Complete with a banana seat and ape-hanger handle bars (with gold streamers) it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
We were instantly fast friends.
And I do mean fast.
And the novel ability to be able to sit while I pedaled was . . . novel.
And remarkable.
We spent many hours and miles together.
Until I outgrew it.
You’d think I would then have turned to the old, green reliable, now that feet and seat could actually work in conjunction with each-other.
But I didn’t.
Nope.
After riding my gold beauty, I wouldn’t be caught dead on that old thing.
Moving ahead many, many years.
My daughters and daughters-in-law bike every morning. With assorted grandchildren as out-riders and three of us towing little trailers, we resemble a parade.
All we need are the balloons.
And clowns.
Okay, just the balloons.
The little blue $99. special I have been riding has been sadly outclassed by my DIL’s vintage, pink marvel.
I have ridden it.
It is delicious.
I want one.
So my daughter and I have determined to find bikes exactly like it.
Now, for the ironic part.
It is precisely like the bike I learned to ride on.
The old green reliable.
The one I wouldn’t be caught dead on.
Balloon tires and all.
See? Irony.
I’ll let you know how it goes . . . 
Today. See the pink beauty somewhere in the middle? Mmmmm.

13 comments:

  1. When I learned to ride Alfred, I rode it everywhere until I was riding up the driveway and Jerry jumped out and scared me. I jumped in my seat and Alfred split apart and went two ways. I went with the front part which was now a unicycle. Then I fell down. I was mad at Jerry, but I think Alfred had gone many miles down gravel roads and was worn out. Dad took me to Burt and Macs Cycle in Lethbridge and we looked at all the wonderful bikes. He picked out another Alfred for me and the gold Banana seat bike for you. Both had the wonderful ribbon thingies that hung out the end of the handle bar handles. I was happy to have a bike to once again provide the freedom that it brought. However, I was a little jealous that you had one of the new Mustangs that everyone was drooling over. But the Mustang was too big for me, so Alfred jr. worked just fine.
    So now you know the rest of the story.
    Blair

    Blair

    ReplyDelete
  2. A woman who works in my building bicycles in most mornings. Last year she bought a beautiful yellow classic, balloon tires and everything. With daises and vines painted on it. Now there's some serious bike envy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I've seen that exact bike! In a catalog my daughter and I have been pouring over. Oh, if only . . .

      Delete
  3. Now that I've taken walking back up, biking is not far behind... I miss the freedom I had. Cute story Diane ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. I had to work my way up to it, too. My first few trips were . . . well, let's not go there . . .

      Delete
  4. When I got a bike so I could ride with my kids, I was astounded at how difficult it was. As a kid, riding was effortless!

    Hope you find your bikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the same experience! I expected it to be the same, too. As the saying goes, "Just like riding a bike!" I thought that meant it would also be easy . . .

      Delete
    2. I think our centre of balance..ahem..shifts a tad as we age.

      Delete
  5. My wife and I are thinking of buying a couple of bicycles to go riding around on. Trouble is, every time I see a (real) motorcycle (not one of those cheap imitations from across the Pacific) I want to get back on one of them. People say a motorcycle doesn't allow you any exercise. I just tell them that they haven't had to start one of them on a cold morning or running out of gas and having to push that 600+ pounds of machine and camping gear uphill. But maybe we'll still settle for the bicycles as that's something we can do together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know . . . I see plenty of couples who motorbike together . . .
      You could come up and see me!!!

      Delete
  6. I remember my wee blue Schwinn with fondness. If I had one now, it would be an adult sized three wheeler. I don't want to break something after all these years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just tried one of those out yesterday. What a blast! I could so easily fall in love with one . . .

      Delete
  7. That is just plain awesome, Diane. I relearned to ride a bike as an adult and now I even ride in New York City. I still feel like a badass. You go. Post some pics!

    ReplyDelete

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