Walking to and from school was always an adventure. My family lived in a military housing neighborhood that was quite a distance from the school. In order to get to there, we had to walk through our area as well as another entire neighborhood. If I were to go back to that house now, I’m sure I would find that the distance was not as far as I thought it was. The world always seemed much bigger when I was little.
Around ten or eleven years old, I was allowed to ride my bike to school. It was a game changer. I could leave the house a little later and still get to school on time. All the younger kids had to leave earlier and I could just lounge around for a while. It was almost like being an adult, kind of like drinking coffee or getting chest hairs. I drink coffee, but still waiting on the chest hairs. Plus, riding to school on a bike made me feel like Evel Knievel, minus all the broken bones.
Once I mounted up, I was ready to blow past all of the walkers at lightning speed. Of course, if you were really cool, you made sure to attach a playing card with a clothes hanger to the front and back wheels. The card hitting the spokes of the wheel made a sound that was much like that of a motorcycle. Or so I thought. Regardless, my bike making that sound as I weaved in and out of the other students on the way to school was pretty awesome. I never looked back, because to look into the eyes and see the envy of all the kids who weren’t allowed to ride to school, just wasn’t in good taste.
Once I left the neighborhood, there was a legendary steep hill, nicknamed suicide hill. No one knows the real story behind it but, I’m sure it was because of all the kids it had maimed and killed over the years from riding their bikes up and down it. Truthfully, it wasn’t so much the hill part but more the depth of the valley between the two peaks. Once you pointed your front wheel down towards the bottom, there was no turning back. You had to gain a lot of momentum to make it all the way up the other side, so I would hunker down into the most aerodynamic position and begin the descent.
The wind, created by the incredulous speed, blew my hair straight back and I’m sure the skin on my cheeks was in danger of being ripped off by g-forces, as I topped speeds of Mach 3.5. There had to be a stream of light behind me that was the only proof that I had even been there.
Once I reached the valley floor, the ascent began. Of course no matter how fast I blazed down, it only seemed to be enough to get me half-way up the other side. As the momentum wore off, I had to change positions to standing up on the pedals. There was some scientific reasoning to standing while pedaling and swaying the bike back and forth to make it up the hill. Because I was going so slow, the playing card sound went from Harley, to wind-chime. It was a surprise to me that they were even still there. They should have spontaneously combusted as I broke the sound barrier coming down the hill. Never-the-less, the sound was less cool as I struggled to make it up the peak on the other side.
Eventually, I made it. Stopping for a moment, I looked across the valley with pride and saw what I had conquered. Even then, I didn’t look down at all the kids who were scaling the sheer face of the hill on foot, but instead thought to myself so long suckers. Taking off toward my school, with not a person in sight, the rest of the trip was pretty smooth sailing for the most part.
As I navigated my way through the second military housing neighborhood, I noticed that each driveway was paved with asphalt. The sidewalks were cement and so when the driveways were re-paved, there was a considerable amount of blacktop overlapping the sidewalk. This made the driveways into very large speed-bumps, or ramps….
Depending on how much build-up of asphalt, you could pop a pretty good wheelie. For all you non-bikers out there, this is riding your bike with the back wheel touching the ground, and the front wheel in the air. And if you were going fast enough, you just might be able to jump over the driveway completely.
As I spied one particularly large “ramp” I decided to gun it at full speed, hoping to become airborne and clear the driveway. The first wheel made an impact and lifted straight up as planned. Not planned, was the second wheel hitting and also going straight up. Just like in one of those hot wheels loops, I flew up, around and upside-down. Even though it only took a few seconds, the whole ordeal seemed to go in slow motion.
What I can’t explain is how, even though I was in slow motion, I still somehow was able to become physically entangled into the bicycle. I was contorted in to some sort of bike and human pretzel, as gravity took over and I plummeted to the ground. Regardless of the fact that I was half flesh and half metal, elbows and knees seemed to be the only thing that touched the cement.
Laying there motionless, trying to process what just happened, I heard a car pull up to rubber-neck the crash scene. With the contents of my back pack strewn about, my arms and legs scraped, bruised and bleeding, the driver took one at me and said, “You dropped a pencil.” I could hear him laughing to himself, as he drove away.
After finally deciding it was safe to move, I unraveled myself from the bike and checked to see if any of my injuries were serious. Nope, just my ego, and there was no way that I could go to school in this condition. Because I was bleeding, I thought it would be smart to go back home to my mommy and get some Band-Aids for my boo-boos.
The worst part about this whole ordeal, was limping past all of the kids that were headed to school.
Also having to push my bike back home, in what’s known as the walk of shame.
Share a story about a time you got into a fight with your bike.