We waited for days like today. Reluctant mounds of snow melting. Puddles. Mud. With the first few days of spring, sometimes earlier we knew it would come any day. Bike riding weather. At least a month before we would shine up our bikes, inflate the tires and sometimes add a horn or glittery streamers for the handle bars.
Every kid in the neighborhood had a bike with a banana seat and sissy bar handlebars. Despite urging my mother to conform, I rode my second hand, heavy red bike with fat wide tires. Hand brakes were fashionable, but I had a one speed with a mechanism that activated the brake with a backward stroke of the pedals. The weight of the bike made it difficult to keep up with my friends. It seemed that I worked doubly hard with others who had three speeds- I had one speed: slow. My mother held onto the belief that, “if it's not broken, why replace it.” Quinn’s Bike Shop was near St. Mary’s School and I would start my journey home window shopping. Sometimes I would go in and stroke the gleaming bikes. Then check the price tag.
When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I saved babysitting money I earned to buy myself a three-speed blue bike from Sears. That bike frequently took me to the beach 15 or so miles away. The hours it took to get there and back required short liberated visits, a quick walk on the beach followed by a picnic lunch. It was nearly an all day excursion. I went alone, frequently trying a different route and discovered that all roads have their share of hills.
On days like this-sunny with the earth thawing I think of the thrill of those first bike rides. Soon the carriage roads, now soft with whispers of winter will be ready for riders. I sure could use my rugged, red bike with wide tires.