“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. “

It must be spring. I can hear blowers cleaning yards, and I saw my landscaper with his green spreader fertilizing a neighbor’s lawn. Good luck to him with mine. It is covered with small branches felled by that last storm with all the wind. My backyard too has fallen branches but large ones from the pine trees.

Color is returning to the world. The male goldfinches have their bright yellow chests and are beautiful against the backdrop of the brown, bare branches. In my garden are yellows and purples and stark whites. I am back to my stop and look at the garden routine when I get the papers. I don’t want to miss a single new spring flower.

Yesterday I treated myself to my favorite sandwich: an avocado, bacon, cheddar cheese and spicy mayo panini. I also bought a whoopie pie. They were my reward for doing errands.

For me, this is a full week. I have something on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. It always seems to work that way. I have weeks with nothing scheduled then my dance card fills. I actually resent my time being taken. I moan and groan at having to set an alarm, get up early and be out at some ungodly hour. I’m talking nine here. Everything is relative.

My first bike was clunky. All of them were back then. The brakes were back pedal, and there were no gears. The chain sometimes fell off, but we were all skilled at getting it back on the silver cogs. It was one of the first bike maintenance things we learned out of necessity. Once in a while, my pant leg got caught in the chain, and it would all be greasy and sometimes torn before I could free it. I had a wire basket on the front and a bell on the handlebars. When I’d hit a big bump, the stuff in the basket would bounce and sometimes even fall out. We’d attach playing cards or baseball cards to the spokes with clothespins, the snap kind, and we weren’t riding bikes anymore. We were riding motorcycles.

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14 Comments on ““The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. “”

  1. Hedley Says:

    The bike was the key to entrepreneurial success, mostly in the form of paper boy. No Sturmey Archer gears for me, I saved up and bought a beauty with Disraeli gears (cue Cream) offering 5 speed, lightweight plastic mudguards and flat handlebars to accommodate the woven paper bag. The gear shift was on the frame. I was unleashed on the innocent of Ashtead, as I sped up and down their driveways, paths and across their lawns beating all sorts of time records that had been set in my head

    The lure of the contents of the paper bag were often too much for me as I collided with the back of parked cars and large concrete pillars that guarded the more expensive communities. Sort of an early version of texting and driving.

    A pocket full of elastic bands made sure that the flairs were secured and generally stayed out of the chain, although there were any number of jeans that did have the elegant black oil marks and matching drive cog penetrations.

    My Cannondale sits quietly in the basement, gathering dust and waiting for Big Rick to break the bonds on hibernation.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      The bike was freedom for me, a way to travel to the ends of the earth, all over town and one daring trip to my grandparents in East Boston. It was partly on Route 1 and there were rotaries, roundabouts, and fast traffic. My grandfather was surprised, my mother horrified when he called. My brother and I both had clunky bikes back then so it was quite the expedition.

      I started to roll up the leg of my pants and seldom got caught any more. My new bike had a chain guard which my old one had had at some point.

      I am waiting too for your Big Rick stories!

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I resent having my dance card fill up, too. It’s very strange because most weeks I have absolutely nothing to do so I shouldn’t complain. But I do anyway. This week is a full dance card week and I tried to get out of some of it. It finally occurred to me that I was going to have to do those things anyway so I might as well get it over with. Grumble, grumble. 🙂

    My bikes were clunky. For the most part mine were over-large boy’s bikes because they had to be handed down to my younger brothers. The pedals had blocks on them. The front wheel had two huge suspension springs attached. The frames were heavy and had that fuselage look. They were always blue. The chain skipped whenever one stood to pedal thus crashing one’s pelvis down on to the cross bar. Ouch. The brakes usually worked except for that one time on Melvin hill when they didn’t and I had to fall over to stop.

    To tide him over until he was large enough to ride one of these behemoths, my youngest brother got a baby bike. It was black and had Hop-a-long Cassidy and his horse Topper painted on it. He was always falling off it and once got his fingers caught between the spokes of the rear wheel and the frame. We had to disassemble the bike to get him out. My brother had special talents. 🙂

    It’s cloudy and the wind is coming up making it seem colder than it is. Something is eating my crocuses. Chipmunks, I think.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      It is so funny you feel the same way. Here I thought I was the only crazy one resentful for stuff to do. I have all the time now and I want it all. Usually I wait until I have three or four errands and then do them so I only have one day to grumble.

      Being the oldest, I never had hand me downs on anything. My brother got new bikes too because he had to have boys’ bikes with that bar across. He was the first to get a bike with the brakes on the handlebars then I got one the next year.

      That’s funny. I know I shouldn’t laugh but he could have been in my family. My sister on her tricycle tried to stop herself, got her leg caught and broke it. She was young, not even potty trained yet and that cast smelled bad. I remember it well.

      I want a weapon for that red spawn who is at my feeder every day. A BB gun or even a potato gun. I don’t care which. I just want it gone.

      Maybe a rabbit?

      Have a great evening!

  3. olof1 Says:

    More and more signs of real spring shows here too, by real spring I mean this time of year when it usually starts showing so even if weäve had spring here since late February I don’t count that 🙂 Today the Yellow Star oif Bethlehem opened up and they rarely show until it is warm enough.

    It was supposed to be cloudy and rain almost all day so I wasn’t the least surprised when te sun shone all afternoon 🙂

    Yes the old bikes where it actuaklly was possible to get the chain back again even if it meantb torn trousers. It was much trickyer when those bikes with more gears than it was possible to use came. Those could take ages to fix back again.

    >That sandwich does sound delicious, I’m just about to make some myself but I have none of those things to put on. It’ll be ham with blue cheese, tomatoes and perhaps another chees on top of it all and perhaps meatballs too 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      We have been in the 50’s the last two days. Rain is coming again but it isn’t snow so I don’t care. It is a raw day today and quite chilly with no sun.

      We haven’t had more than a day or two of sun for a whole week. Yesterday was great, and I’d love more days like that.

      It was simple fixing the chain on the old bikes. You’re right about the geared bike was it had to many cogs for all the gears. I hated having to walk my bike home because of a broken chain.

      I am not a fan of blue cheese but the rest of your sandwich sounds delicious. Enjoy!!

      Have a great evening!

  4. Birgit Says:

    The art of bike patching. The fastening of my bike battery back light broke recently. Cheap plastic stuff, I have to buy a new one. For now the light is in a condom knotted at the pannier rack. Safer cycling.

    • katry Says:

      You gave me a great chuckle with your last sentence. Thanks. It felt great to laugh so heartily put loud. I have a great picture of your light in my head!!

  5. flyboybob Says:

    The simple one speed coaster brake bike was every kid’s first taste of freedom. For the first time in our young lives we could explore the area without our parents. My first bike also had the phony tank sourounding the part of the frame that went between the handle bar and the seat giving the illusion of a motorcycle. I would never use baseball cards in the spokes only playing cards. The wheels were 20 inches in diameter and came with removable training wheels. Mine had a horn rather than the bell and saddle bag baskets on either side of the rear fender. Did your’s come with white sidewall tires?

    • katry Says:

      I used to love to brake on sand. The bike would sometimes do a little-wheelie.

      We never had training wheels. I don’t remember anyone having them. The bikes weren’t the small ones we see today complete with training wheels.

      I’ve noticed the kids with training wheels take longer to learn to ride a bike than without them.

      I don’t remember the white wall tires so probably not.

  6. Jay Bird Says:

    Enjoyed your comment about resenting your time being taken. The guilty pleasure of retirement is an empty day to spend as we wish! A bunch of us – male and female, all retired several years – were relaxing at some “19th hole” last summer, and someone said, “Warm day, golfing at my favorite course with good friends… bummer!” We all sheepishly admitted that we preferred a day with nothing on the calendar. Guess we wouldn’t fit in The Villages!

    • katry Says:

      Jay Bird,
      This has been the worst week. I have had something scheduled every day except today: Monday and Friday for meeting people for breakfast which is fine, but I grouse at the alarm set for eight o’clock and Wednesday was a doctor’s appointment.

      I used to get up at 5 or 5:15 and now I complain about 8. Even I have to laugh at that.

      I do love empty days.

  7. Ted Says:

    Hey, Kat, the bike isn’t just the vehicle of novelists and poets. It’s also for theoretical physicists.

    Einstein said about relativity, “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”

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