At a recent called meeting of the Auburn/Opelika Velvet Bean Growers Association, which was called to discuss the possibility of buying out our chief competitor, ADM, the subject of bicycles somehow came up.
We agreed that there was a difference in country biking and town biking.
Take Frosty, for instance. (Notice, I carefully refrained from saying “please.)”
She was a town girl. Our town is essentially flat as a flitter, there in the Yellow Creek Valley, all the way out to Turner’s Mill to the east (the unofficial city pool) and the bridge that crosses Yellow Creek to the south.
Some hills to the west and north, but the main part of town could have been designed especially for bikers …and roller skaters. The space around the courthouse and that bridge were choice skating spots.
But back to bikes. In her pre-teen years, Frosty and her best friend, Frances, were a familiar sight, scooting all around town on their bikes. For movies – and she didn’t miss a one – she’d lean her bike against the Annex (where school supplies were kept), see the movie, come out and pedal on home.
This was any time of day or night. Perverts were unknown in those days. Her parents didn’t worry about her a bit.
Biking in the country was different. My grandkids had bikes to suit their size from diaper time on up. No trouble learning to ride those.
I got my first bike when I was 7 or 8. It was a much-used full-size bike. It was like a mustang. It had to be broke, and I had never ridden a bike at all.
So, there followed a time of turmoil and hatred. I couldn’t get on it on level ground. So I’d get on the little ledge by the driveway cautiously, ease over onto the saddle, and push off … and go a few feet until it fell over, with me on it, plowing up the red clay back yard with my face.
Over and over. A few inches further each time. Cussing it (to myself), calling it bad names.
Finally, I learned that trick of staying upright, a threshold once achieved, never to be forgotten. And, oh, I rode those hills and hollows of The Community, me and first cousin/best friend James. His bike was even older and more beat up than mine.
Most of the time was spent pushing, because there are formidable hills in every direction. Bickerstaff Hill, Matthews Hill, the hill by Artie’s, and so on. But, ah, flying down those hills!
Bikes can be dangerous, as everybody knows. The daughter had a bad wreck coming down the hill in Prestige Plaza. She was thrown onto the pebbly pavement with a force that nearly cut off her ear and caused a concussion.
Thank goodness, good ol’ Dr. Sims happened to be in his office, and he sewed her up … and told us we might as well take her home and just watch her. And when she came out of it, she could see again, and it all worked out.
I consider it to be one of the high points of my life the day I taught my son how to ride a bike.
We went over to one of the empty parking lots by the stadium, and I ran along, holding him upright, over and over again, until, aha, he got it. By George, I believe he’s got it!
One amusing thing my brother and I often laugh about: we worked every day on the farm, as dangerous a place to work as any, livestock, machinery, many chances to get seriously hurt.
But Daddy wouldn’t let us ride our bikes to town (population 791). All that traffic was just too dangerous.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.