Trike. I never had an easy relationship with bicycles. But it was a tricycle that triggered the earliest spontaneous meditation I can remember, at least so far. Not my trike, some other kid's. There was a tiny pond near our house, probably a remnant of the meandering Red River, about three crow miles southeast of us. The pond was surrounded by a thicket except for a small beach. I liked to go to the pond so I could look for tadpoles and watch the minnows and damselflies flit about, each in their medium. I like minnows. On the far bank of the pond, half submerged, was the rusty wreck of an ancient tricycle. Looking at that trike jolted me with my first recognition of time, aging, and death. I was no older than two. I can still taste that moment.
Raleigh. I got my first bike in Marianna, a red Raleigh three-speed. It had training wheels at first. I'm not sure those are a good idea. But I got 'em off and rode around very locally. Then it was time to go on a Sunday ride with my dad; he had a black Raleigh. We rode to Riverside so I could practice for a while on traffic-free roads, then back out. We headed down Decatur, a big downhill. I was riding behind him and we were picking up speed. He was yelling some advice to me about braking but I froze up and forgot how to brake. I rode into his left pedal and we went down in a big tangle. There were bruises and a little road rash, nothing serious.
Chain. I also had a bike in Kenya, a push-bike as we called them, before I got my Honda. By the time we were in Ridgeways it was useless. But I rode it to the YMCA that first August, and got around Nairobi on it. Bike theft is a big industry in Kenya, so I had a steel chain and lock in my pannier. Woven steel cables didn't cut it. That bike took me to some unhappy parties; one in particular stands out. I hung out at the USCS while I was still going to the Duke of York and got invited to a party. I didn't know anyone. I'd met Barbara but we weren't dating yet. There was a game of spin the bottle. I went into the closet with a tall pretty girl I'd never met. We just hung for the allotted time in embarrassed silence.
Seattle. I thought I was done with bicycles but I talked myself into buying a used one in Seattle. I found a bike at Recycled Cycles that someone had assembled by hand from good solid components. Reynolds 531 frame, Stronglight crankset, nice alloy rims I forget the name, and the rest Campagnolo. It fit me and it was a deal. I was living on Woodland Park Avenue at the time; we called the area Freelingford. I used to walk through the gridlock to Gasworks for the fireworks, and the solstice parade started just down the street. I rode it while I was living there in Keith's house and also in Bridle Trails. It worked OK for getting around but I was unenthusiastic. Riding a bicycle in the rain is no fun at all. I was strictly a fair weather rider. But I hung onto it for years, and sometime in the early 2000s I manned up enough to try riding it to work at my new job with EVS:
I wouldn't wish that ride on my worst enemy, if I had enemies.
My problem with bicycles is they get in the way of walking, and good posture. My posture is dreadful on any bike. Slouched over chest caved in to reach drop handlebars or slouched down in a recumbent like some easy rider fool who needs a flag to beg don't hit me. Bolt upright with my arms stuck out in front of me on a trail bike is the best I ever did. No.