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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Biking: The first road to independence

  • When I was growing up, between the time I obtained my driver's license and being chauffeured everywhere you went by Dad or big brother, there was one mode of independent transportation called biking.
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  • When I was growing up, between the time I obtained my driver's license and being chauffeured everywhere you went by Dad or big brother, there was one mode of independent transportation called biking. I recall getting my first bicycle for Christmas during adolescence and pre-teen years. I wasn't really all that impressed. In fact, I considered it a throw-in among all the Christmas cache I received that year. In fact, it may have been a couple of years before I realized the importance of the bike. Actually, it was my second bike – my first bike was a hand-me-down from my brother complete with training wheels. Anyone remember training wheels? They came just before Mom or Dad gave you one last push and you were off and running on your own. During the years of the upper elementary school and lower junior high school grades, a bicycle became an important means of transportation for students, particularly on sunny days. The “bike rack” as we called it became a central meeting place for “the guys.” West Elementary School was too far away from my home to make biking my source of transportation. Junior high was much closer but at that time I preferred to walk. It was after school activities that made me desire to become independent as far as getting from one place to another was concerned. Biking was a very popular after school activity. Mom didn't warm up to the idea at first but with a little coaxing from Dad I spent a lot of school day afternoons and the summer hitting the streets of Osceola on my bike. I didn't ride for the sake of exercise. I rode because I could get from one place to another much quicker than on foot. Beside, I didn't have to wait for someone to give me a ride where I wanted to go. If the weather was right, it was off to the races. My first treks included visits to my friend's homes, several blocks away and to empty lots to play baseball or football. Then, there were those trips downtown to Sterling's to buy baseball cards. I must admit that I was probably more than a little reckless at times. Motorists would honk their horns when I sped through stop signs and red lights. The Good Lord must have been seated along side me because I was never seriously injured while riding a bike. By the time the high school years rolled around, I hung up my spokes. High school was just a little more than a block from my house; so, it was easy to walk even in inclement weather. Besides, it just wasn't “cool” to ride a bike to high school. I don't think I rode a bike again until Joyce and I moved to Waldron. We bought a pair of Sears bikes and exercised fairly regularly riding through the neighborhood. Today, biking is a popular sport but not frequently on public streets or even in the neighborhoods. They just aren't quiet as safe as they once were. Now, bikers take to bike trails and participate in well-organized races. It's amazing to realize that I was having so much fun on the back of a bicycle and at the same time was getting some quality exercise time. If the knees would hold up, I might consider trying it again.
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