with

Mike Bellah

Eight-year-olds don't ask each other what they do for a living; they want to know if that Western Flyer with the basket on the handlebars and the back fender removed (in anticipation of modern mountain bikes?) is yours.

 

 

 

Riding your bicycle for the first time (not a miniature, learner-bicycle and not with training wheels) is comparable to taking a spin in the family car when you finally get your driver's license.

 

 

 

Imagination also figured into our bike riding. My brother Craig and I, for instance, invented "roller skiing," a sport that combined our love for water skiing with our transportation of choice.

My First Bicycle

The first time I ran into a car, I wasn't in a car myself. I was riding my Western Flyer bicycle purchased in 1957 from Bud Parker's Western Auto store on the west side of the square in Canyon. Traveling south on the sidewalk in front of Bellah's Super Market (now The Canyon News), and concentrating on jumping the curb, I hit a car parked at the stop sign. There were no injuries to boy or automobile (they don't make 'em like they used to).

Red, trimmed in white, and with blue and white streamers attached to the hand grips, my first bicycle was my first real possession. You don't have to ask your brother to borrow his football or monopoly game (In most families, these are considered community property), but you had better ask before taking his bicycle.

A boy's bicycle is sacred, certainly more special than an adult's automobile (unless maybe that automobile is a mustang convertible driven by a man in his 40s). A boy's bicycle defines him, the way a midlife man is defined by his job. Eight-year-olds don't ask each other what they do for a living; they want to know if that Western Flyer with the basket on the handlebars and the back fender removed (in anticipation of modern mountain bikes?) is yours.

Riding your bicycle for the first time (not a miniature, learner-bicycle and not with training wheels) is comparable to taking a spin in the family car when you finally get your driver's license. I can still remember the freedom I felt pedaling through distant neighborhoods ("Distant" in those days was anything 6 blocks from home).

My bicycle is part of most of my boyhood memories. It was lying on the grass at Connor Park during Sunday afternoon football games (No self-respecting boy used a kickstand). On most days, it was parked in the bike rack at Rex Reeves Elementary (The late Rex Reeves was still principal of the school), and it leaned against the wall outside the "picture show" at Varsity Theatre during Saturday matinees (where Disney and Jules Verne might be taking us to an imaginary world 20,000 leagues beneath the sea).

Imagination also figured into our bike riding. My brother Craig and I, for instance, invented "roller skiing," a sport that combined our love for water skiing with our transportation of choice. My bike was the motorboat, behind which I would pull my brother on roller skates (Remember the kind that attached to your shoes with a key?). Craig would then jump the plywood ramp we had constructed and placed in the middle of our large, circular, asphalt driveway.

In junior high I bought a new bicycle, an English racer with three speeds and skinny tires. It was faster than the old one but never as special, and, since riding bikes gets uncool as teen-agers grow older, by the time I was 15, I had left the racer to collect dust in our garage.

Today I own a mountain bike, the 4th in a series I began riding in my early 30s for daily exercise and occasional off-road trips to the canyons or mountains. I've found the old adage true: One never forgets how to ride a bike. And, even though my trips are not as long or rugged as they used to be, I've also discovered that one doesn't forget the pleasure of riding.

What color is my present bicycle? Red, of course.

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