Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dad - 5

My Dad taught me to ride a bicycle.  My older brother and his friends road bicycles and some of my friends road bicycles.  It's hard not to remember the shame and humiliation of a kid who hadn't yet learned to ride a bicycle when other kids were already there. I blamed it on training wheels. Some of the other kids had had bikes with training wheels.
But Dad said, "I"m not going to spend good money on a bicycle that's only going to last a week because of the training wheels".
"Well, then you teach him how to ride a bicycle, " Mom said.  I suspect I'd been whining to her.
Dad bought me my first bicycle, second hand, 'because you'll need a bigger one really soon'.  I was so proud of that bicycle.  He showed me how to oil it and later how to change the chain but mostly I remember learning to ride it with him.
He helped me onto the seat.  Then he held me steady. It was on the sidewalk across the street.  He walked me while I got a feel for the pedals and kept myself steady, then he was running along beside me.  I was bicycling, pedals going madly, handlebars wobbling and moving side to side but then I was alone, lifting off, going to the moon, the first space shuttle, and I was bicycling. I crashed when I looked back to see where Dad was. He was only a few bicycle lengths beside me, bent over to catch his breath but that looking back was all it took for me to go sprawling.  Then he was there beside me, getting me and my bike up right, poo pahing my scraped knee, encouraging me, always encouraging me.
"You were bicycling, Billy, you did it, but don't look back, you have to keep your eyes on where you're going."
I don't know how many times we did that. But by the end of the weekend I was bicycling.  Once I was bicycling, there was no stopping me. I explored all of Fort Garry, Fort Rouge,  St. Vital and eventually all of Winnipeg before my friends and I began our longer country trips . By 20, I'd be overseas and bicycling across Europe.
I still remember Dad running beside me, holding my shoulder and  one handle, with me,  then letting go, trusting me as I rode along that sidewalk all on my own.  Dad was wearing a white shirt and black dress trousers that day. Pretty soon I was riding behind my big brother. Not long after that my friends Kirk and Garth and I would pretty much live on our bicycles.  We were bicycle cowboys as kids and those little half sized bicycles were stallions to us kids.
(Thanks Dad)

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