I will never forget the day our parents brought the new bicycles home. There were two – one bright red 26” boy’s bike and one 26” baby blue girl’s bike for me and my two sisters to share. (The division of things like bikes and bedrooms divided by gender never seemed fair to me – especially being the youngest of four, but that is a rant for another day.)
I was young and fortunate we had a girl’s bike so my feet could touch the ground. A 26” bike bordered on being too big for my stature. Mastering a bike meant being in control of your own balance and I was not at all confident. I struggle to remember how old I was, but I was young and in a very awkward phase of the adolescent growth cycle.
Let me just pause and remind my readers this was a time when safety equipment was never considered much for kids. Heck, we didn’t even have seatbelts in cars yet. Bumps and bruises and broken limbs were a rite of passage. No knee pads or shin guards. No elbow pads or bike gloves. No helmets. The idea of learning to ride a bike took true grit and determination – it was many a child’s first act of true bravery.
My grandfather took me onto the main road in our little valley. It was paved – well, sort of. It was a mixture of packed gravel and tar – hot top we called it. I mounted the bike and listened to the explanation of how to break. No hand brakes back then, it was all in the pedals. I was ready.
“Don’t let go.”
“Just pedal and watch where you’re going.”
Slowly the houses moved by me, gradually moving faster. I was focused on the end of the road which seemed miles away. I was tasting a freedom I never thought possible. I felt like I was flying.
“Should I brake now?”
Silence. I glanced over my shoulder and my grandfather was no where to be seen. I awkwardly applied the brakes and dropped my feet to the ground, almost falling onto the road. I looked over my shoulder to see my grandfather all the way at the other end of the road, smiling and waving.
“You did it!”
I couldn’t believe he let go. I walked the bike around, got back up on the seat and pedaled my way back. He had more faith in me than I had in myself.
Written as part of Linda Hill’s JusJoJan.
Prompt word today (cycle) submitted by JoAnna from Anything is Possible.