I remember the day I got my first bike.
I was eleven and a classmate at school, (not a friend, I was a loner), had received a new bike for her 12th birthday. She'd been allowed to ride it to school, to show it off, it was black and white and so very shiny! I hovered close to the admiring crowd so that I could see it too and watched as she allowed her best friends to each take a turn around the playground.
I knew how to ride a bike, I'd been riding my dad's bike around the block now and then for a couple of years. Dad had a big old men's bike with that cross bar that I couldn't possibly swing my leg over, so I'd poke my leg through the triangle of space to reach the other pedal and off I'd go, leaning crookedly, but managing to keep balance.
Anyway, after M showed off her new bike at school, I must have prattled on about it quite a bit, although I don't remember doing so.
One day Dad came to school a little earlier than hometime to pick me up on his bike.
Now this was a very unusual occurrence, I always walked home and Dad should have still been at work.
He sat me on the cross bar and we rode past our house to the corner of the block where there was a section of median strip that was covered in lawn. He left me there and told me to wait until he came back.
I did wonder why he hadn't just dropped me off at home, it was close enough to the corner that we could see that patch of lawn from the front gate, but I'd been raised to do as I was told, so I sat on the grass and waited. And waited and waited.....
Eventually Dad came riding back, but not on his big old brown bike.
He was riding a shiny new lime green girls bike!!
He'd traded his bike (and no doubt paid a few extra pounds) for a bike for me!!
I was so excited!! (Thoughts of how Dad would get to work now didn't even cross my mind).
I had a bike!!
We lived in a small town,( Port Pirie, which is much bigger now), so I'm assuming now that Dad simply walked to and from work and once he got there he'd be in the company truck to get around.
Dad worked for the Gas company and went around installing or repairing gas stoves and hot water heaters. He also had a plumbers licence so did a fair bit of installing pipes and septic tanks as well.
I remember going to work with him one day and watching as he cut new threads onto a section of pipe.
After I got my bike, I was rarely home any more after school. I rode to the beach, to the library, to every single park and playground in town. I would ride until the sun was going down, then head for home.
The year after that, I was in high school, further away than the primary school had been, so I rode to school every day, and soon learned to copy the show-off boys who rode without holding on to the handlebars.
I got so good that I was able to ride all the way home without holding on, even going around corners.
Most of the stretches of road were long and straight, my peripheral vision was good, so I'd sit and ride and sometimes even read a page or three of my book.
I must have had some good fairies watching over me!
Playing with Frankie Fotos
3 hours ago