Just what my bike needed
As a youngster I was an enthusiastic bicyclist. Not only did I love to ride my bike, I loved to adorn it with accessories. An incident last week reminded me of my childhood penchant for bike accessories. Let me explain:
After wearing out my first bike, a used 26″ balloon tired model, at age 9 I drained my savings account to purchase a beautiful red and white mid-weight model from the local Gambles Store.
As I earned the funds to do so, over the next two years I added handlebar streamers, a headlight and tail light, a rear view mirror, a speedometer and saddle baskets. Along the way, I often attached baseball cards or balloons to a fender stay to give the vehicle a realistic motor sound. I preferred the deep-throated motorcycle sound of the balloons but they popped too quickly.
I was hard on that bike. I was what my mother kindly called “heavy set” and loved to jump ramps. By the time I was a teenager that bicycle was shot.
At age 13 I purchased a sturdy used balloon-tired two-speed bicycle from my buddy, Wayne, who would soon have his drivers’ permit. This bike held up to my weight and I enjoyed many miles on it.
To this sturdier bike I added my all-time favorite bicycle accessory ̶ a siren. Purchased from a mail order catalog, the siren mounted on the front fork of the bicycle. When the device was pulled up by a chain, the center shaft of the siren came up against the front tire. The rolling tire turned the shaft and, in turn, the guts of the siren creating a sound similar to that of police and fire sirens of the 1950s and earlier.
Fortunately, we lived in a tiny town of 200 at this time so when I rode my bike at break neck speed with the siren at full wail there were no police officers present to issue a ticket for disturbing the peace or impersonating an officer.
I have no idea what happened to that bicycle and its siren. With three younger brothers, I assume it was passed along to one of them. Soon I would get my drivers’ license and the thought of bicycling moved to the back of my mind. Way back.
Over the years, I rode my son’s bike a few times but it was one of those skinny tired apparatuses with back-breaking handle bars and a hard-as-a-rock skinny seat that was painfully uncomfortable.
After retiring several ago and marrying a bicyclist, I decided to give it a try again. When I approached a bicycle retailer asking what it would cost for a bike sized for a 6’7″ overweight old guy, he informed me that I would require a handmade custom model, the price of which made my wallet flinch.
Then the retailer offered an alternative. He said he saved large bicycle frames from trade-ins and using other parts from his inventory he could create a larger bike for me at an affordable price. His idea of affordable was in the range of my idea of affordable, so I went with that.
I am pleased with my sort of made-to-order bicycle and I enjoy riding it though I no longer ride with the dare-devil confidence of a 9-year-old.
At the same time, I no longer lust for bicycle bling. Other than a rear view mirror for safety’s sake, my old timer bike has no accessories. No streamers, no speedometer, no headlight and no saddle baskets. It does have a few gears which makes it a little easier to pedal decades of accumulated weight around. In case you were wondering, I no longer jump ramps.
I did desire one more thing for my bike ̶ a wider, thicker seat ̶ and I added that last week. When I picked up the bike from the dealer three years ago, I noticed the seat looked awfully narrow… and hard. I tried to get used to that instrument of torture but couldn’t.
A thorough Google search found an extra-wide, heavily padded bicycle seat and bike riding is now more comfortable.
Oh, bicycling still isn’t as fun as it was when I was nine, nimble and lighter but that new bike seat is nice. With all the other inconveniences of getting older, bicycle riding should not be a pain in the butt.