“One of the most important days of my life, was when I learned to ride a bicycle.”

Winter has no idea it’s time to go. The days are cold and the nights even colder. The sun has a sharpness but no warmth. The breeze is slight but chilly. We are expecting snow Wednesday. The amount is still in question. Poor spring has no idea its arrival and welcome tomorrow will be so frosty. I suppose there is some comfort in saying it’s spring as we bundle up tomorrow.

This morning I noticed a purple crocus has joined the yellows. I also saw more green tops have broken through the soil. I think they might be irises. The day lilies have started poking their heads out of the ground. The garden is astir.

When I was a kid, I had spring jackets. They were unlined and zippered. Their colors were bright and welcoming to the eyes after winter coats. I was always in a hurry to start wearing one and used the calendar as my starting place, not the weather. My mother disagreed, and she always won. I was stuck wearing that heavy winter coat until my mother deemed the weather warm enough for a change in wardrobe.

Riding bikes on a spring day was as much a part of the changing season as the arrival of the crocus. I’d haul my bike out of the cellar, up the stairs, hop on, ride down the grassy hill and take off, no specific destination in mind. It was all about the ride. The sides of the streets were filled with sand, left over from the winter and snowy roads, so I’d bike on the sidewalk. On one street, the sidewalk always had frost heaves. It was the best ride, all bumpy and fun. We’d go to the school yard and skid on purpose in the sand. The bike tires would leave looping trails behind us. The swooshing sound from braking in the sand was the best part. We’d try and outdo each other with the longest skid.

The ride home was easy until my street. It was a huge hill, and that early in the spring I couldn’t pedal up the whole way being out of practice. I’d have to wheel my bike from about the halfway point. By the end of spring, though, I could pedal all the way up the hill, but I always got tired at that halfway point. I’d have to stand to use all my strength to pedal. I always expected an ovation of some sort when I made it all the way up the hill on my bike.

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8 Comments on ““One of the most important days of my life, was when I learned to ride a bicycle.””

  1. Hedley Says:

    My bike has not been out of the basement for a year as Big Rick became Really Unbelievably Big Rick and biking became impossible. Yesterday the warm spring air got me off the sofa, walking around the neighborhood and my bike immediately came to mind. I am not sure how this year will work but I don’t anticipate that Rick will hit the pavement (not literally)

    The bike was a right of passage, social mobility and gainful employment. The Disraeli Gears (Eric Clapton joke) clicked as the bike sped through the sun and rain, up and down paths, across lawns and flowerbeds delivering the Mirror and The Times and The News of the World and the Sun. The only accidents that I ever had occurred when trying to read the next paper to be delivered and being unaware of a parked car.

    I paid for that bike – the news paper rounds paid it off and it was to transport me for years.

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I remember Big Rick and your rides together. They were a ritual for both of you. I’m sorry they have ended.

      You would be quite chilly here if you wanted to walk around the neighborhood. The weather encourages stay at home.

      Only boys delivered the papers. I did try but only half-heartedly. The idea of having to get up early and ride despite the weather wasn’t all that appealing.

      My bike did give me independence. The whole town opened up to me. Once my brother and I rode to East Boston to visit my grandparents. My mother was horrified and rightfully so as the ride meant going on Route 1A which was quite busy. It took a long time to get there. We were fine. She wasn’t until we got home unharmed.

      My bike was a Christmas present.

      • Hedley Says:

        Kat, I think that I walk more now, and it is an evening ritual for Mrs MDH and I to go out for 30 minutes. It might be the biking demise (not literal) of Big Rick or it might be the addiction to fitbit and the 10,000 steps

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        I loved to walk. I did 8 miles a day to and from work then an 8 mile walk I had mapped out for non work days. After my back got so bad, I couldn’t walk anymore. I was devastated. Now even small walks hurt.

  2. olof1 Says:

    They say we’ll finally get warmer weather here from tomorrow! I won’t mind since it snowed a lot on my way home from work today. The only thing showing here are the snow drops but they have been up since late December and are just waiting for some warmth so they can open up. The rest of the garden is still buried in a lot of snow 🙂

    I do remember all the bikes I’ve had but I can’t remember a single spring jacket I have had 🙂 I’m pretty sure I must have had several but none has stuck in my mind 🙂

    Finally getting out on the bike meant freedom 🙂 Ok I could go anywhere by tram but it wasn’t the same. Everything took less time to reach, even to our summer cottage because trams and buses tend to stop everywhere 🙂 The best though was to bike to my grandmother to have a cinnamon bun and lemonade 🙂

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      My snow has been melting but more snow is coming Wednesday night. It will be another nor’easter with winds up to 60-70 MPH and heavy snow which may knock down trees and poles.

      I love my jackets. They were a sure sign winter was over.

      We had busses but they went from town to town and we seldom had reason to ride them. We went to Boston every now and then with my mother and we rode to the skating rink in the next town but only a few times each winter. I rode my bike everywhere town.

      Have a great day!

  3. Birgit Says:

    Winter or summer, I still ride a bike quite often. We don’t have that much snow in winter so with a mountainbike you’re on the safe side. With a second rack and removable side bags it’s good for grocery shopping too. For longer distances I usually take my trekkingbike. I’m too lazy to walk to the tram station at the nearby main street so I take an old scrap bike instead. Unfortunately most towns only supported cars for decades and car traffic increased a lot so it’s often dangerous for kids to bike nowadays. Anarchy biking for those of us who ride anyway which means that safety is more important than obeying traffic rules. I don’t really miss a car, this region is known for it’s traffic jams anyway, I just miss listening to music in full blast while driving the highway 🙂
    Local public transport and will be on strike tomorrow, fortunately no problem for me.
    Cold and sunny today, I hope the magnolia tree buds survive the frost.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      When I was a kid, the bikes had brakes using the pedals. We had no mountain bikes or bikes with gears. They came later. The first of them had three gears.

      There is a bike trail which covers much of the cape.They just finished two bridges over heavily traveled roads. I used to bike from Dennis to Provincetown. The last part of it was on flat ground, and by then, I needed that.

      Even when there is no snow, it is just too cold for bike riding this time of year.


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