bicycle dreams…

April 4, 2011

i don’t know if there was ever  time i wanted to ride a bike as a kid. my first memory of bicycles is of looking up from my big wheel tricycle at my older brother and his friends on their bikes and thinking of falling. my second bicycle memory is of falling, off of a bike with training wheels, and crying. my third bicycle memory is a few years later, at 9 or so, being pressured into learning to ride a bike by an uncle, being pushed to  faster and faster speed, and falling into a bush. i know i didn’t try again after that to learn to ride as a child.

my grandfather was an italian bicycle racer (and an artist… basically he’s everything quintessentially “italian” except a mobster,  priest, and a grandmother who wants constantly to feed you). there was shame in not learning to ride a bike that went beyond what neighborhood kids could dish out (mostly i kept it a secret from the kids, which wasn’t too hard since i was fairly friendless and bookish). “good-natured” ribbing was sure to occur at family events throughout my young adult years.

needless to say, i didn’t try again to learn to ride as a teen, either.

at 19, my first son was born, and by three he was riding a bike masterfully, daringly, beautifully without training wheels. by four he would go off riding with my then-partner, leaving me alone with the baby. they would bike a few miles to the creek in Los Altos in which you could play.

i considered getting an adult tricycle (excuse me, a “three-wheeled bike”), but could never afford one.

when my son was 5 and i was 24, i got a pink step-through bike as a gift from my then-partner, purchased at a police auction. it was sort of rusty but i was determined to learn, and my son… he was determined to teach me. he had me coast downhill on our rural driveway (we’ve moved to Mendocino, CA), and with the only eyes on me being those belonging to birds, feral cats, and my admiring, encouraging son, i rode a bicycle. soon i was riding with him on the country roads near our house.

when we moved to Portland, OR, i had a few blissful chances to ride with friends around town. i was a newly single parent and the freedom of the kids being with their other parent for a day or two was disorienting and vaguely intoxicating (i say this as the most domestic, child loving person you are likely to meet). my first bike ride in the city was with a friend (hi, Satine Velour Chenille Lipkin-Lamay!) out to the bluffs. i sang her a dorky song i wrote about getting to know myself and we watched trains in the train yard and boats out on the river.

soon enough, my bike was gone, disappeared from the backyard of the house out of which the kids and i were moving. i’ve been saving for a new bike ever since. this time of year always gets me pining for the freedom of the road and, feeling the way i do about cars (and not being able to afford to run one, to boot!),  i dream of bicycles…

i want a pretty bicycle. a pretty bicycle upon which i will feel pretty, free, and comfortable. a bicycle that will reliably carry me on rides with my children and alone in those two days a week i am a weirdly confused autonomous individual, or, should she also be so lucky as to find her dream bicycle, on romantic rides with my girlfriend around town and out of town, both of us free from our twin responsibilities of caring for home and family (all.the.time). Or, should we be blessed with infinite patience and an adventurous attitude, the two of us and the five children we have between us, biking along the esplanade and laughing, hopefully with a minimum of competitive racing… 😉

i want to ride out to the bluffs and up to whitaker ponds and hopefully not get crushed by giant behemoths of hurtling metal and i want to smile and sweat and be alive in the sunshine.

bicycle dreams…

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