I remember it was a difficult time when I transitioned from my tricycle to a brand new two-wheeler with training wheels. It wasn’t because I was scared of the larger bike, with its thick, sturdy shiny metal frame and pungent black rubber wheels. It was that I just really loved my tricycle, the one I had ridden so hard that one day while tearing across the firm, lumpy grass in the back yard, the front fork broke off cleanly. My great Uncle Ed, the one who had worked on the crew building the Milwaukee County Domes, performed magic and welded it back together for me. The band of extra metal circling the fork gave it more character, a war story.
The tricycle was a bold purple, with little flecks of iridescent in the paint. The handlebars were covered in what had at first been a white plastic but had aged to a streaked, grayish brown. The sparkly cellophane streamers that came out of the grips were long gone, but as I pedaled furiously away from our driveway to the end of the block and back, expertly veering around raised sidewalk slabs and uneven alignments, I could feel the tassels streaming and flapping in the wind.
I could be a daredevil on that tricycle. When I built up enough speed to coast past at least two houses on our block, I would swing one leg back and step on the wide bar below the seat. Standing tall, I would jettison down the sidewalk, fearless, free with the wind in my face and hair.
This morning I pedaled through the subdivision on my hybrid, the thick tires rolling smoothly against the paved cement. I shifted through only three of the 21 gears. I’m not really sure when or how I should adjust. I’m not a bicyclist by any means, but my shiny red Schwinn makes me feel young again. Coasting down the hill toward the park, I stood high on my pedals, face to the sun and imagined sparkly cellophane plastic tassels snapping in the breeze.