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 . . .