I have a brother just one year older than me, and growing up I always wanted to keep up with him. If he was being toilet trained, I had to be toilet trained. If he was going to Year 1, I had to go to Year 1 (there were plenty of tantrums and tears when my older bro left for his first day of school and I wasn’t allowed to go too).
My first bike was no different. He had a bike, so I wanted a bike. He lost his trainer wheels, so I had to lose mine too.
My very first bike was a pink tricycle with a little pink tray on the back. I would pedal around the back and loved to follow my brother everywhere. When I got tired of pedalling, I would jump on his tandem tricycle and he would pedal me around with him. Thankfully, he loved giving me rides. Sometimes I am sad that we were so incredibly close when we were younger, yet as time passes everything changes and that closeness too drifts away.
My very first two wheeler bike was also pink (being the only girl in a family full of boys, cousins and all, my family were keen to force ‘girl’ colours onto me for as long as they could).
My brother had been given a bike for Christmas and my parents were wise enough to know that if he got a bike from Santa, Santa sure as hell had better get me a bike too.
I was six.
My mum remembers how I learnt to ride without my trainer wheels:
“You were determined to have your trainer wheels off because you wanted to be just like Geoff, you were so incredibly stubborn at such an early age.
“Dad was helping you to ride without trainers and I remember very clearly him running behind you holding your bike and you yelling out ‘don’t let go daddy, don’t let go!’
“After a couple of goes Dad let go, you looked around and saw he had. The look on your face was precious because you realised he was not holding you up…you were doing it on your own.
“Geoff was also riding up and down on the path next to you and dad and he was giving you tips about how to get your balance to start with.
“Once you had got the hang of it there was no stopping you…you were off.
“After that you and Geoff would spend hours riding up and down the footpath out the front of our place.’’
I remember my first major crash well.
I had been riding my bike up and down the path one Saturday, and Geoff’s friend who lived up the street, Ryan, accidentally rode into me and I fell off my bike. I abandoned my bike and came running and crying home and into the lounge room and my face was covered in blood. Even though it was an accident Geoff was so upset he went after Ryan and told him off.
Ryan was scared about coming over for a little while after that, though he did sheepishly return my bike and left it on the front veranda.
I looked really bad because of all the blood, my teeth had gone through my lips and tongue so both of those areas bled a lot.
When I was cleaned up and the doctor came it didn’t look quite so bad, but the next morning I had my cousins christening and I looked like I’d been through the wars – even my pretty white lace dress and mary-janes couldn’t hide the fact. Those good church-goers must have thought my parents were abusive.
My first bike brings back memories of adoring and looking up to my brother, my dads firm hands on my back as I pedalled on two wheels, the freedom that came with being able to put my dolls in my white basket and take them for a ride down the street.
And I admit, sometimes now I wish I could grab a few dolls, chuck them in my bike basket and ride off to the pond to feed the ducks all afternoon.
First posted here. Thanks Mel!