Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's Like Ridin' A Bike

As mentioned in a blog gone by, I learned to ride a two wheeler at age three...or there abouts. Anybody I could grab to give me a push, I would. I have a distinct memory of my brother pushing me up Monroe Ave in Plainfield, and I guess I was getting cocky, 'cause when I turned to look back he was a block away waving at me. Of course, I immediately fell. But I was resilient and determined and ride I did....like the very wind !!!! I had lots of adventures on bikes. I hadn't thought of some of my bikes until this very moment. What a flashback. We used to play this hide and seek type game.... in teams..... and on bikes..... called Ring O Lerio. One team would get about twenty minutes take off time and then the chase was on. The way you knocked one of them out of the game was to smack their tire with your tire....in mid chase. A dicey proposition. Riding the hills in Greenbrook Park was exciting.....especially Suicide Hill. You had to actually cross a road in mid hill with no time to look for anything. If my mother only knew. A new guy moved into the neighborhood and on his first trip down the "hill" we forgot to tell him about the huge root on one of the bends. Maybe the hardest I ever saw anyone go down on a two wheeler. Got a lot of mileage out of that story.
A friend of mine had a paper route in my next town and I'd go along sometimes riding on the handlebars. He'd go screaming down this hill and make the turn just missing the far curb. We'd both be screaming the whole way. Manly screams, of course. Two on a bike took a little practice. The handlebars, the crossbar or the rear fender were your choices. Or one on the seat and one standing and pedalling. My least favorite way. Another friend of mine had a bike with no seat and no brakes. Ouch !!! These were the days when bikes had individualities about them. Before the "English Racer" or"ten speed." But man, I could still fly pretty good on mine. One day I was cruisin' down Rivercrest Dr and here he comes...this big old nasty German Shepherd ripping across the lawn after me. Well I wan't too concerned. I knew he was tied up.... but....what?......not today!!!!!! He was off the lawn, into the street and the chase was on. Adrenaline's a wonderful thing, isn't it? He was gaining till he was about four or five feet behind me, then it was an endurance contest. Neck and neck for about a block, then he started slipping away. Feets don't slip now. Made it.
I used to have an apartment in Somerville, NJ right over a drug store at the corner of Main and Bridge Sts. Not exceptionally interesting, except on Memorial Day. The Kugler Memorial Day bike race.....or whatever it was called ...would happen. One of the biggest races in the country, right through town, and I was on the main corner!!!!!! Man, I was popular that weekend. Now that's ridin'.......and crashin'. Nothin' like the sound of a hundred and fifty bikes going by you at thirty mph. 40?...50?....I don't know. But fast.
I have a mountain/all terrain bike now, mainly for cruising the trails of Hunterdon County for nothing more than fun and exercise. The flatter the terrain, the better. Every now and then, though, I'll get off the beaten path and be a kid again for awhile. I love that feeling when you finally jump off and your legs feel like rubber. You manage the cool dismount and then almost collapse. Ahhh, well. When you're a kid your bike is like...well....it's like a guy's horse was in the old west. Your best friend. Your mode of transport. Your ticket to adventure, romance, "here to there." You could tell a lot about a person by the kind of bike they rode. The generics of the bike of today, I fear, have taken that away. Climbing aboard one is so familiar to everyone it's got its own signature. "It's like ridin a bike!!!!" Well.... I don't know, man........nothin's quite like ridin' a bike.

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