my first bike

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!


  1. Our parents made a lot of sacrifices for us and never mentioned it.

  2. How awesome was your dad!!

    I bought my first bike myself, when I was 15 and had a job working at a little roadside shop 2 kms away. It was dog-ugly but at least I didn't have to walk to work. (had to walk most of the way home though, it was uphill!)

  3. What a wonderful thing for a father to do for his little girl.

  4. Now that's a dad. No fuss, no muss. No guilt or show about it. He simply gave something up to, undoubtedly, watch the sunrise in his little girl's face.

  5. What a wonderful father and a great memory you have of him, River :)

  6. Just had a squiz at your bike pic again - the silver bar the seat is on should go down that further couple of centimetres, inside the pole.
    Loosen the screw/swivel hook thingie and push down, hard, sometimes those silver seat posts get stuck in the one position.

  7. That's what i call a loving dad as well as a top bloke :-).

  8. I can remember my first bike, too, River. My brothers restored an old one they'd found at the tip, as good as new. And like you I travelled everywhere by bike. I shudder to think of it now, how dangerous, but not so then I don't think.

    Maybe we both had angels looking after us. lovely writing, River. Thanks for the memories.

  9. At that same time...just across the water in Whyalla I was going through pretty much the same experiences. We lived on our bikes and anything that took them off the road was like having your feet cut off for the time it took to have them repaired. It was a good childhood was it not?!

  10. My first bike was second hand (or more likely fifth hand) but I loved it with a passion and like you rode everywhere. The freedom... Thanks for the memories.

  11. Delores; yes, they did. I'm quite sorry that I didn't see many of them until I was older, but I certainly appreciate each sacrifice now.

    Toni; he was pretty awesome, really laid back, easy going, giving me only very basic rules and allowing me to make up my own mind a lot, learn from my own mistakes.

    R.H. yes, indeed.

    Andrew; It was such an unexpected surprise too, nowhere near my birthday or Christmas.

    JeanetteLS; no muss, no fuss. That was my dad alright.

    Ro; My greatest memory is the freedom he allowed me. I had the son-in-law and the grandson (big strapping boy) both trying to push the seat down further, but they couldn't budge it. I'll have them try again next time I see them, maybe if they twist it a bit as they push...
    If it goes down those few extra inches it will be much easier for me.

    Windsmoke; he did love me quite a lot. He always said it was because I had brown eyes like he did...

    Elisabeth; I'm pleased to bring you a happy memory. It's true times were less dangerous for kids back then, more so for me I think, because Port Pirie was a smaller town then and everybody knew my dad and me.

    Tempo; it certainly was a great childhood. The freedom! And I learned very quickly how to fix my own punctures.

    EC; great memories aren't they? First bikes and freedom. I remember feeling the same freedom and excitement years later when i got my motorbike. (scooter, really, Suzuki 50cc).

  12. There's three things you can do:

    1. Squirt WD40 to loosen the bar.

    2. Then hit the bar with a hammer, using a lump of wood on top to protect the end.

    3. Or: hacksaw the bar off leaving enough to attach the seat.

    If I lived near you I would fix it myself for no reward (apart from a truckload of your mince pies).

    Gastronomically yours,

  13. n'aaw what a lovely Dad.

    I have fond though amusing memories of riding my bike down the middle of the road, no hands, with my eyes closed. We used to play chicken, to see who could go the longest without opening their eyes.
    I may have ended up in a blackberry bush on the side of the road!

  14. Happy New Year River! Thanks for sharing a very touching memory. :`)

  15. R.H. I'm not strong enough to do any of those things. I'll have the son-in-law look at it. Or I'll take it to a bike shop and see what they can do.
    That's a Lego sized truck of mince pies, right?

    Fenstar; eyes closed?? Holey doughnut!! I wouldn't have dared.

    drb; you're welcome and HNY to you too.

  16. Don't be coy, if you're strong enough to work at a supermarket checkout you're mighty strong.

    Don't play the Little Lady.

    And most of all, don't tease me over mince pies. I would expect a bit of icing on top of each, and won't mind if they get a bit squashed; it saves on the chewing.


  17. What a lovely story and even lovelier dad!

  18. This brought back many memories of growing up in Port Pirie and of how much I loved my dad-thank you somuch

  19. In 2011 I rode a bike for the first time in about 25 years on Lord Howe Island! SCARY!!! Sadly, I think I was the slowest rider the islanders had ever seen ...

  20. R.H. mince pies don't get icing, they get sprinkled with caster sugar.

    Kath Lockett; thanks. I loved him for it.

    Anonymous; welcome to drifting. Maybe we knew each other in Port Pirie.

    Red Nomad; it's been 43 years for me, and it certainly is scary!

  21. Begging your pardon, I've had a mince pie with icing on top; and want another.

    Special order.



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