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Sunday, March 23, 2014

My best bike


I learned to ride aged eight, on a full size Schwinn with balloon tires and coaster brakes. That bike went on down to my sister and is in my daughter’s garage now, waiting restoration. A wonderful bike, but not the first that comes to mind.

My best bike ever was a folding bike, French, as I recall. Bright yellow. I acquired it as a bank promotion back in the seventies. Banks were giving away the shop, or the bank, as the case may be, back then.  Banks were paying all kinds of interest to have your money, and offering all kinds of promotions to get it.  For some banking transaction I scored the little yellow bike.

It went on vacations and was handy to ride over to the playground to get the kids home for supper. It was critical around the neighborhood, tracking down which house over a four square block area two girls might be.

I remember the girls and me, riding the back roads from Mentor to Willoughby, to buy ice cream cones on a hot summer night. These were quite the olden days; we rode facing the traffic. Another trip was to a little city park in Willoughby, with a tall bluff overlooking Lake Erie. I’ll bet these were ten mile round trips.

Fortunately, nothing ever went wrong with the little yellow bike, or I would have been in big trouble. The wheels kept on rolling, the brakes kept on stopping. The only maintenance issue was air in the tires, resolved by a trip to the air pumps at a gas station.

Except—one pedal began flying off, gratuitously. A sharp left and the left hand pedal would fly off the left hand peg. I’d pick it up, throw it in the basket, and back home snap it back behind the flange thingy that held it in place. I never saw the difference between the right and the left that kept the right in place, but sent the left pedal flying on a banking left turn.

One night I made the sharp turn into Whitney White’s drive. The pedal flew, I coasted over, retrieved it, told the girls it was time to come home. Whitney’s dad jumped up from his lawn chair on the drive. “I can put that back on for you.”

“It’s OK,” I answered. “I can do it.”

“No, let me,” said Whitney’s dad, one stride later.

Whitney’s mom grabbed the back of his shirt. “She said she can do it!” Whitney’s dad sat back down.

I wish I could remember what I did with that bike.


 Borrowed shamelessly from Wickipedia



26 comments:

  1. Whitney's mama was a wise woman. And I love the look of that bike. The only push bike I had was third or fourth hand when I got it. No gears. Back peddle brakes - and I loved it. We travelled miles together. And I don't know what happened to it either.

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  2. I have such great memories of riding bikes all over town in the summer. In those days there was no need for our mother to watch for us and she was happy as long as we were home in time for dinner. We lived in a college town and so it was only natural to move on to a 3-speed and I can remember taking my son to day care on the back of my bike and then riding on to work.

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  3. I saw several like that when I lived in Europe, esp. in Amsterdam.

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  4. Bikes were the best. I never understood the riding into the traffic thing. I would have fixed that pedal with some duct tape.

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  5. A lovely, evocative story. My first full-sized bike was fished out of the Basingstoke canal with a rod and line, taken to the local police station, kept there for six months until nobody had claimed it, then given to me.

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  6. I do love your stories, Joanne.

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  7. I used to ride my bike five miles round trip to The Attic in Hudson and buy a bunch of candy. I don't think it's there anymore. I just looked it up.

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  8. Joanne, you should have been a narrator. Love this!

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  9. Had never heard of a *folding bike*... and hard to believe that banks were giving them away. Banks don't seem to *give* much these days. Great story.

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  10. I remember banks giving away toasters and kettles but bikes....wow.

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  11. I spent most childhood holidays riding my bike...then when I grew up I cycled to work...got knocked over twice by drivers who didn't stop.We used to ride to the beach and for picnics in the countryside,but I could never deal with gears...ever.I obviously drive an automatic.
    Jane x

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  12. I learned to ride a bike at age nine, which casts your eight-year-old self as a bit of a showoff here. Just sayin'.

    I never knew such a thing as a collapsible bike existed until I was in my 30s. Again, I believe your early knowledge casts you as the showoff here.

    Or me as the dummkopf.

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  13. That would be interesting to know what happened to the bike; it sounds like a great travel companion!

    betty

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  14. Oh I would love a bike that would fold up. I am going to look to see if they still make them, I gave my Schwinn bike with balloon tires to my granddaughter when she was about ten. I thought she would eventually think it was a silly looking bike to drive around. But no, she is sixteen now and still on occasion will take it for a spin. I guess those Schwinns are the rage where she lives in Utah. Who would have thought! -- barbara

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  15. That's strange about that left pedal flying off like that. I've seen fold up bikes here in Adelaide, not many but one or two being pulled out from the car boot (trunk) and unfolded, then ridden off through the park.
    I love that image you have there from Wikipedia. Those bikes were very popular here in the 70s and 80s with baskets front and back, so handy for carrying a little shopping, or library books. When I started looking for a bike years ago I couldn't find one of these anywhere, not even in secondhand shops.

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  16. I had a folding bike too...it was great for stowing in the caravan for holidays. I used to catch my leg on the lock which held the two halves together !
    Great memories.

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  17. Camping World sells fold-up bicycles... I've been thinking about getting one as I now have a regular size bike stored in Ohio and another one in Maine. I didn't own a brand new bike until I was in my 20's.... learned on a hand-me-down of my older sisters. I love your stories of your life.

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  18. Dear Joanne, I've never before seen a fold-up bike. I don't think I really knew there were such things. Isn't life wonderful when we can remember the past and those days that made us who we have become? Peace.

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  19. Bikes and I are not good friends. I am constantly banging into things and then falling off.

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  20. Oh to have had a folding bike in my youth! My brothers would have kept their distance, and I could have developed some bike skills.

    Lovely recounting of great memories.

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  21. Nice memories Joanne. It sounds as if it was a nice bike despite the flying pedal!

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  22. What beautiful memories, Joanne! Banks have changed somewhat, haven't they!

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  23. Hari OM
    Yes I remember these - but never had one. Many cycles, but not one of these. Popular with the University crowd I recall. Still occasionally see one round Edinburgh... YAM xx

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  24. Going for bike rides were a big part of my childhood. I can remember hurtling down Bausley Hill with no brakes and ending up in a pile of chippings. Ouch. It did hurt.

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