Sunday, January 25, 2009

The intermediate steps on two wheels



That first step toward riding a motorcycle was actually preceded and followed by much bicycle riding. I did not have a 26 inch two wheeled bike until I was about twelve years old, but I rode it many miles through the same neighborhoods I would later ride the mini bike. The mini bike put an end to that riding for several years thereafter.

Interestingly, the 26 inch bike was purchased from Sears Robuck & Company using silver dollars given to me by my dad. He had received them from his customers on his laundry and dry cleaning route. Before he gave them to me, he polished them up in the basement at the sink using a scrub brush and scouring powder. This made them clean and bright.

When I started college, I lived close enough to commute on a bicycle, so I went to a department store, with a schoolmate advising, and bought a ten-speed bike. I fitted it with a luggage rack, and it served me well through engineering school and beyond. Many a day could find me wheeling onto campus with my books strapped to the rack. Even in winter, despite my northern location, I often rode if the streets were reasonably clear.

There is another interesting anecdote that I must tell you. I was nearing graduation from college as my wife-to-be was just getting started on the same campus. She would make it a point to "happen by" the engineering building at just the right time to intercept me as I arrived. She knew that I always locked my bike to the railing in a particular stairwell, so she also knew where to position herself. If I were driving in, my parking place would vary depending on availability, which made it much more difficult to find me. So that bicycle played a bit part in our marriage of almost thirty-four years now.

That bike lasted until I was about twenty-eight years old, when I rounded a corner and a car pulled out catching the bike frame just behind my leg. The bike was fatally injured, but I escaped without harm.

I bought a new ten-speed bike and rode it many a mile until about ten years ago. We moved to a new place where the roads have no berms, and drivers don't watch for bikes, so I started running, walking, and did more in-line skating instead. Actually, I had started skating when I was about forty years old. I bought a set of skates and protective pads at a closeout store. Yes, an older guy skating is a sight to behold. I am the only adult in the neighborhood who skates on the street. The protective gear is a precursor to my using ATGATT today (All the gear, all the time) when I ride the motorcycle.

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