Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .


To look at it, you would think it was just another normal boy’s bicycle but I knew better.
It was an off-brand that my father bought at an old store in town and I so loved it.
Can’t remember the name for the life of me but it was mostly fireball red and the fenders
had a bit of white detailing on the tips that made the overall effect one of ‘daredevil’ proportions.
It had a really cheesy gold sparkle banana seat, nicely padded for overall shock absorption.
The highlight was the handle grips which were a neon orange with black tiger stripes and tiger heads on the ends. Yeah, this was one serious machine, to me anyway.

I drove it everywhere: around the neighborhood, into the center of town, to the baseball field, the high school, my multiple girlfriends’ houses, the fruit stand for a classic Coke and a bag of State Line Cheese popcorn –
there wasn’t anyplace this thing wouldn’t go.
We used to build ramps to practice catching a little bit of airtime
and rode ‘sans’ hands whenever there were girls around.
We were daredevils and would try almost anything that gravity would allow.
You were nothing without your bike.
These days, you’re nothing without your FaceBook or MySpace page.
Funny how things change . . .

One day we decided to race down Harvard Street, a road right next to my house.
It had a bit of a downward slope and was an unforgivable gravel with asphalt road, rough as a lizard’s skin.
During the summer days we never had to worry about cars driving down the road because our fathers were all working and our Moms were at home doing whatever it was that Moms did.
We started at the top of Harvard Street and the first one to go all the way down,
around the cul-de-sac and back up to the top was the winner.
40+ years ago, the street seemed to go on for days.
I mean this was one long ass drag strip.
In reality, if I were to drive my truck down and up it today it would take all of about one minute.
At 15 M.P.H.

Someone yelled, “Ready? On your mark! Get set! Go!”

Off I went past the Gilbert’s house, whizzed by the Masterson’s, flew by the Pelletier’s before seeing the cul-de-sac ahead of me.
I was clearly in the lead and didn’t bother to slow down going into the nasty cul-de-sac.
The last thing I remember is hitting a patch off sand as my trusty bike slid out from under me.
My left forearm hit the asphalt as the rough road began chewing off my pieces of my skin.
My bike was wrecked and my left forearm and knee were bleeding profusely.
I left my poor and once awesome bike in the road and ran home in a bloody mess.
Winning would have been nice that day but having the skin back on my forearm would have been much nicer.
This was the day I learned and took to heart the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything.”
I omitted the last half of it for my own psychological benefit.
I did get another bike but it would never be the same.
Maybe that was part of growing up that I hadn’t counted on . . .


  1. ah… the memories this one conjured. mine had a turquoise vinyl speckle banana saddle – and the envy of the neighborhood was the giant “sissy bar” on the back… saved up to buy handgrips to match the seat. but i didn’t have tigers…

    Though it sounds like this was one cool bike.
    Turquoise vinyl speckle banana seat?
    I’m jealous already . . .

  2. Oh, man, we had a hill that was at least 6 blocks long! We could ride our bikes up about 3 or 4 blocks but then we had to walk them the rest of the way. Coming down we’d get going so fast we’d have to take our feet off the pedals (because they didn’t “coast”. These were refurbished bikes that had belonged to my older brother and sister.) We could make a wide turn onto our street and still be able to coast up that little hill to our house! Luckily, we never crashed – no gravel, really. But I always had skint elbows and knees. :)

    I would have loved to see (and ride) that hill.
    Sounds like it was a blast.
    Thank God no crashes.
    On a hill of that size, the results could have been devastating.

  3. I had a John Deere bike when I was young. If that ain’t country I’ll kiss your ass.

    BTW, I have taken up bike riding as a stress reliever and a little bit of exercise. Smacking dogs with a billy club as you pedal down the street is soothing as all get shit.

    Hopefully the dogs you smack are pretentious Toy Poodles and Chihuahuas . . .
    God, I hate them.
    They’re not even dogs

  4. I can relate to the bloody skinned knee.
    I was riding on the back fender on my cousin Susan’s bike when my shoelace became tangled in the spokes going down Fairfax Road.
    Skinned everything-cried like a baby.
    The kicker was that I got yelled at (after I was bandaged) by my mother for riding “2-up” on a bike.
    I didn’t do that again.

    Oooh, so you were a ‘naughty’ girl, eh?
    I knew there was something about you . . . 😉

  5. I had a white and purple bike with a bananna seat and a basket! It was so hot!

    My best crash…I still have the scars on my left hand, I ran smack into the stop sign and fell off my bike into the chain link fence. Talk about blonde moment. 😉

    Ah, the dreaded Stop sign.
    Sorry, but your comment made me laugh.
    Still have the scars, huh?
    White and purple?
    Purple is my favorite colour.
    Sounds pretty hot.

  6. Ah the memories!
    Skinned knees and elbows, cracked head with accompanying stitches and the obligatory running blood.
    We lived in a court that was reasonably steep, and it ran off a street that was even steeper…we’d start at the top of the street, play chicken with the cars as we flew down it, into the court, and no hands of course! The curve at the bottom of the court was used as the brakes as it slowed the momentum and we went up the other side of the court and then did it all again…
    It was all great fun until something went wrong with the bike and it refused to turn at the bottom…enter one wrought iron fence at the Middletons place…
    Picture this..Maureen, 10 years old, smashing into the fence, over the handlebars and the fence, cracking her head on the way past the fence, flat on her back {badly winded} in the neighbours yard, blood running from her head, requiring 6 stitches after quite the exciting ride in an ambulance {driven by my Dad BTW, he was on call and had one in the driveway} close to being unconscious
    Not too sure what hurt more..the damned stitches or the walloping I got the following week when I tried the same dare devil run in a billy cart that didn’t have any brakes at all. My red Malvern Star was, understandably, in no fit state after smashing into the fence the week before, so I had to make use of an apple crate, some old scooter wheels and a piece of rope.
    Yeah, I should have learned, but what can I say? I have a thick head!
    Thanks for the ride down memory lane ~m…made me remember how much I loved that bike and the fun I had on it, crashes and all…

    I’m thinking there’s a future post you need to write, Moe.
    Jeepers, you’re alive to tell the tale?
    Holy Shit, Batman!
    Sounds like one damn horrific crash.
    Sheesh . . .
    You’re still here though.
    Thank God.
    No more bikes for you, young lady.

  7. Banana seats hadn’t been invented when I got my bike — a “British racing green” bike, skinny tires and 3 gears! So intimidating at first, compared to the old fat tire Schwinn I’d shared with my little sister. But it was all mine. It was my ticket to ride. It gave me the freedom to zip quickly and effortlessly to every place I dared think of going. It was my equivalent of a horse when I was young, a car as I got older.

    Sand brought me down, too. Just a little bit at the end of the driveway as I turned onto the street. I didn’t think I was hurt at all, till I looked down and saw the gaping hole punched into my thigh by the kickstand. No blood, just yellow fat! Lots of stitches, some deep, some to close the skin. My first scar. Woot!

    Eventually it became uncool for a girl to ride a bike to school. What a shame. That was a great bike.

    Amazing how much we all loved our bikes, huh?
    I think that is just so damn cool.
    The gaping hole with yellow oozing fat sounds totally nasty though.
    I’m thinking you’ve recovered since then.
    I hope.

  8. Horses did far more damage to me than a bike ever did…
    Broken cheek bone, fractured skull, 6 ribs and both arms in one fall….there are many, many reasons I’m lucky to be alive I can assure you….
    Meh! Shit happens….

    Alright . . . no more damn horses either!
    Will you be in one piece when you get here or do I have to assemble w/ instructions?

  9. I love reading all the replys :-)
    I also had a turquoise bike with a matching banana seat. Don’t forget the white plastic basket on the front with the plastic flowers. So Mod! One day I thought, being the oldest and of course, the bravest big sister ever, I’d take my brother for a ride down the ‘big hill’. He sat on the back of the seat and held on to the bar in the back. I was picking up speed and decide to show how cool I was, by wiggling the handle bars back and forth. We hit the sand patch at the end of the hill and the bike slide out from under us. Needless to say, we slide with the bike….sideways! My whole left side was a mess! I decided to add extra drama by screaming like my leg fell off or something. Every neighbor in our Greendale neighborhood came running. It was not pretty! I had to live with the scabs on my whole left side of my body for weeks. Ewwww! Like Pam, I never did it again….once we were patched up, we were grounded. And….as you might guess, the hill isn’t a hill (an ant hill maybe, ha ha) I have driven down that street to show my kids my old neighborhood and they think it’s hysterical! :-)

    I’m loving the fact that everyone of us has a ‘bike’ story.
    Yours is up there with the best of ’em, Lynn.
    As always, thanks for stopping by.
    Much appreciated.
    No more ‘big sister’
    for you . . .

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