When I was a kid, we were so poor my parent's couldn't afford to outfit us all with bikes. However, we were also fortunate. My dad worked for a small electronics's company which rented office space in the basement of a bank.
This bank was robbed once while my dad was working there. He had to hide under his desk while the thief-turned-murderer stalked the basement looking for an exit.
In any case, some kind soul dropped off several old bikes at the bank parking lot and my dad took them home for us kids. They were at least 15 years old by the time we got them. At least. Banana seats and high handle bars suggest 20 years old, but I'm not a children's bike historian, so it's really any one's guess.
These bikes were so cool!
We lived in a very quiet neighborhood that only experienced traffic twice a day -- during Shift Change Time. 5am and 3pm. The rest of the time, we were pretty much free to roam around the block on our bikes.
After casing the safety gravel alleyway a few times, I'd generally work up the courage to go onto the street. Our school system was very pro-safety and I learned how to signal on a bike before I'd learning to ride. So, with arms waving in precise motions, I'd trek out onto the road. Down the hill, down Cedar Street, up the hill, back to the ally. Over and over. When I felt particularly brave and confident, I'd sometimes go one more street down or up. I'd always try to get as much speed as possible heading down the hill. That was the best!
We lived in a house sitting on the top of a slope. Our back yard was level with the house, but our front lawn featured a big dip down the the street as did our drive way. It was great fun to go sledding on the lawn in the winter time and flying down the drive way on bikes in the summer. One such summer afternoon saw me perched on my banana-seated tall-handle-bar-sporting bike at the top of the drive way. I pedaled hard for a few feet to work up momentum before the hill took over. By the end of the driveway, I'd lost control of the pedals and had my legs stretched straight in front of the bike to avoid being ripped apart by the wildly rotating rouge pedals. Completely absorbed with attempting to regain control of my vehicle, I didn't realize that another vehicle was right in front of me until moments before I smashed into its side. It was my neighbor's parked car, pulled next to the curb across the street.
I was so grateful for that car!
It stopped me from running into the curb and being thrown from my bike -- which probably would have resulted in a trip to the doctor's office. The rubber on my tall handle bars made contact with the door of the car first, simultaneously spinning me around and slowing me down so that I would bump the vehicle instead of the metal frame of the bike. I left no dent or scratch on the car and came away with only minor bruising and an intense lack of enthusiasm for the remainder of my bike ride, which was very short.
This left an impression on me, though. To be doing something reckless and to be saved -- painfully -- by something best avoided.
Sometimes salvation comes from an unexpected source.