I am a member of Toastmasters at work. Once week we get together and someone (or multiple someones) give a speech, and they get feedback. It is an excellent method to work on your public speaking. Before each meeting, the toastmaster sends a question relating to the theme of the meeting. The question today asked me about when I first learned to ride.
It started me thinking. I do not remember my first steps, my first words, the first time I dressed myself, or even the first time mom didn’t have to cut my dinner into bite sized chunks. Nor do I remember my first day of school, or the first time I went to a carnival, but I DO remember the DAY I became a bike rider.
This is NOT the day i am speaking of, but I am pretty darn sure this was the last trike I had before I got the “big kid” two-wheeler!
My first bike was a Purple tank of a Huffy with hard rubber wheels. Meaning these did NOT inflate, they were solid like the old tricycles. It of course had training-wheels and I am pretty darn sure it was solid steel.
At the time we lived in a trailer at the bottom of a dirt road hill in the trailer park in Pennsylvania. I remember pushing the bike up the hill, training wheels and all, and hopping on and flying down the hill! It of course required that I lock up the brakes at bottom and skid. BIG fun! My mom should have known she was in trouble…
We moved to Washington state, and my hill was gone. Once again we lived in a trailer park which was perfect for little kid cycling! It had three rows of streets running in parallel, with two connecting streets on each side. There was also a cul-de-sac. ALL on roads that had very slow speed limits and no hills. Yep it was time for taking off the training wheels.
Now I have no idea how many times my mom and/or dad did the classic run with the bike and let go. But I am sure it was a lot! I do know, that I would head out the driveway and go to the right every time. I distinctly remember crashing and burning many times. At least once I ran right into a neighbors car (he was less than pleased as the handle bars put a good scratch in the door.
I finally got to the point where I could make it to the end of the road, but then I would crash trying to turn around. Time and time again this happened. I am sure mom had a buy extra boxes of band-aids.
But then it happened. Finally one day, I made it all the way down to the end of the road, and it was time to turn. I can honestly remember thinking “Here comes the crash” but I didn’t!! I made the turn and rode back to the house. Then I turned and went back down again… My cycling career was born!! I wish I had an odometer back then, I’d love to know how many miles I put on my legs in that tiny little park. I rode all OVER that park until I heard my name being called (My dad was a drill sergeant, his voice CARRIED!)
That was 40 years ago or so. But I still remember the feeling of making that turn. That 8 year old had never heard of Strohs, let alone knowing he would someday use the name Mountainstroh. However, that kid continued riding a bike as far and as fast as he could. He learned to do some tricks (nothing like the X-games, but to him it was the coolest) jumped ramps, chased bad guys, and every now and then, got to ride after the street lights came on. Later he cycled all OVER Ft Lewis, another perfect place for an older bike riding kid.
I can think of a few other times that something I did shaped a big part of my life, but I honestly believe that making that u-turn was one of the, if not the first. If I hadn’t finally figured it out, I can’t begin to count how many adventures I would not have had. Who knows, I could be a bon bon eating couch potato right now if it hadn’t have happened.
I am not sure what happened to that old Huffy, I know my kid sis had it for a while. It was ugly, but for a while, it let me be the wind! I am very lucky to have had it. Thanks MOM!!