The freedom of a bicycle is amazing
Some time between the time my aunt bought her house in Lamar and the time she moved in, I made it my little get away. It was not much at the time, and after ripping out the kitchen there was even less. It was great. One weekend my friend Jeff and I were crashing at Lamar for the weekend. After a few Mexican beers with key limes we broke the bikes out of the garage. With a bit of moon light we cruised over to Big Tree and along the coast of St. Charles Bay. I’m not sure who had the girls bike, but it really didn’t matter since no one could see us ride in the dark.
It had been years since I had been on a bicycle and it reminded me how much fun I had on one growing up.
Mom, can I cross the street?
The answer was always NO. I had to be 11 or 12 till my mother stopped watching me from the slim window in out living room.
We lived on Fair Oaks Drive in Corpus Christi. To get to the dirt hills it took 2 street crossings, one across Fair Oaks and the other crossing Stonewall. The dirt hills were not much of any hills. it was just an overgrown lot in the neighborhood. When all the other lots in the neighborhood were built on this one was left empty. It was overgrown and a perfect place for all the boys in the neighborhood to test their manhood. There was a storm drainage ditch that ran along a short dirt track with a jump. I’m guessing the one jump is how the lot was branded Dirt Hills. For me to get there legally I had to stay on the sidewalk and head up and around 2 cul-de-sac and back down around another before reaching the bicycle playground. This was a 7 minute trip that could have taken 1 if allowed to cross the street.
At the dirt hills you could take the storm-drainage down and around the homes it took you to the bamboo forest. Yea it was not much of a bamboo forest, but it was a place some bamboo grew and you could grab some poles and smack your friends bamboo pole till they cracked in martial arts excellence. By the time I was old enough to cross the road without someone holding my hand I had disassembled my BMX bike I had out outgrown. At this time I was into a 12 speed road bike. No one told me that my road bike was not was not as sturdy as my old BMX and it didn’t last quite as long. I road fast and hard on that Raleigh. After finding out how much fatigue would be too much for the bike I remember tacoing the tire and retiring the bicycle for good. I then took over my brothers bicycle and treated it much better than mine.
I was interested in the concept of a recumbent bicycle since my high-school buddy John Harrell’s dad built his own recumbent bike when we were still in high-school. They were odd and hard to ride, but the aerodynamics combined with the ridding position made the machine cool and unique. Years later my parents bought 2 recumbent bicycles. These were refined and easy to ride. My father paid the extra and had a bit of suspension and a fairing on the front end. The bench style seat was better than the typical ass crack saddle that are on standard bicycles. One day my mom asked me if I wanted to fill in and ride with here during a bicycle race. I had only been on the bicycle a few times but accepted the challenge of a 30 mile ride and the fact that my mom needed supervision was also on my mind. The ride started on the king ranch. It was a to and back route on the outskirts of Kingsville Texas. One bicycle group was doing the 60 mile ride and we were doing the 30. The start was epic as they ranch let the mustangs run alongside the fence as we were taking off on our 30 mile run. They were absolutely beautiful and the roar of the heard was impressive
After about 10 miles of babysitting my mom, she told me that if I wanted to ride on I could and she would meet me at the finish line. Much to her surprise I said yes and headed out finally joining the race. I buzzed along as a novice bike rider on a bike I had little to no experience on. My 2nd 10 miles were great but then my legs went to sleep. This happened due to the soft and pleasant bench seat that makes your crack feel good has a problem in the trade off. Your rump sits flat on it and your leg circulation is cut off.
I’m guessing my energy level dropped, or my inexperience started to show during the last 10 miles I was on and off the shoulder of the road. Someone pulled up asking if I needed help and I put it back together and road on.
I was in shape for basketball, but didn’t know what do do on a bicycle. I would watch folks on conventional bicycles and try to match cadence and speed. Boy, oh boy, I had no clue then. Not that I know a lot about bicycles now, but I know enough to know I was a complete bicycle dummy back there.
I was happy to finish the race and it was great to see my mom also completed the 30 mile trek.
On another day or I should say night, I got on popsy’s bikeE and started to ride. I started at our house at 3209 Fair Oaks Drive and made Odem Texas my goal. It didn’t take long and I was cruising out i37 and then across the Nueces river bridge. in my mid 20’s my mom would have kicked my ass if she knew I was cruising a bicycle over a bridge build for cars only. That night I made it to the convenience store bought a little drink and rode back home. It was a great feeling to get on a bicycle, ride to another town, and ride back. What would have been a 15 minute ride on a car took me over 40 minutes. This was my first bicycle trip that mirrored a road I had been on 100 times. When you travel on a bicycle you see things and have time to think about them. Like when I passed the odd shaped building that was built to validate its purpose and validity for the tax office, or the gymnasium I learned to play basketball in. There were so many thing that I had time to think about. When you are passing these things at 75 miles per hour you were are on to the next building or landmark and then back to the road and the other motorist and then further down the road. Sure you could walk it but then you have you work past things too slow and in place of thoughts of the building you then start to philosophize about the brick and mortar the building is made of, so for me the speed of a bicycle is king supreme.
Over the handle bars and onto the pavement chin first
Sure it wasn’t the first time I had used gravity to split open my face using a concrete sidewalk, but it was my first day on a PK Ripper.. It belonged to my uncle Damon. He was 4 years older and had spent his money on a BMX bicycle. I don’t remember what color it was when he bought it but I do remember it bare bone striped of all its components. It was stripped of all its paint down to its raw metal frame. Uncle Burner hung it in a tree by a piece of wire and preceded to put on a fresh coat of paint. Weeks or months had passed and Damon was staying the weekend with us. He had brought his bicycle and let me ride it. I don’t know wow old I was, but I do know this was the first bicycle I had been on that had 2 brake levers. In fact this bicycle was cool enough to have a brake system on the front that enabled you to twist the handle bars around and not twist any cables. I was fascinated by the engineering marvel. I should have been paying attention to the fact that the lft brake lever was connected to the front wheel and the right was in charge of the back. I was going, I was not sure how fast I was going, but I do know I was going fast enough to propel my skinny little ass over the front of the handlebars when I pulled on the left brake lever. From that moment on I never forgot what that brake lever was connected to. I’m not sure what PK Ripper stands for but if you would have asked me on that day I would have told you it was the cousin of the grim reaper. I’m not sure if a PK ripper is a great bicycle to have, but I held this bicycle in a very positive light even though bucks like a bronco. I’m not sure what eve came of the old PK Ripper. I know I rode it on Damon’s makeshift 1/2 pipe. This was the jalopy of all 1/2 pipes. build by high-school kids who stole plywood from signs, ditches, dumpsters and neighbors fences.
Back to the BEGINNING
Just push and learn was how I learned to ride my bicycle. There were a lot of weekends where uncle Damon would stay at our house. He was like a big brother to my big brother. Our childhood home had a wraparound drive at the top of the hill in our front yard. This hill was a source of a lot of childhood fun. We would race our matchbox cars down the hill to see hows car would go the furthest. There was a German made dump truck and a blue van that were the top contenders.
When were weren’t racing cars we were racing our Roller Racer 2000 down the hill and then upgraded to bicycles.
You would have someone at the bottom of the hill to spot you and then yell “GO!” Well let me take a step back, and note this was what they big boys would do. I had not made the plunge down the big hill on my bike yet.
The trip down the hill was a right of passage for the boys of Fair Oaks. It was fast. I was egged on and finally took the drive down the mountain and loved it. I had to build up the cohones to let gravity pull me down down down to the street and beyond. From there on it was not scary anymore but it was fun. What a great way to start a bicycle ride than a down a big hill.
Well that is enough bike rambling for now. I leave you with a movie from my friend Stephanie Myers.
Thanks for reading. Now go ride your bike!