Tuesday 3 September 2013

Sitting on My Ass

For some reason, I have begun noticing what two, three, four and five year olds are riding this summer. They are mostly riding in cars with moms, but some of them are on wheels of their own.
Hurricane is riding a two wheeled bike and his brother, Tornado, prefers the scooter. I think he likes the scooter mainly because it just feels safer than the bike does even with training wheels. A three year old on a scooter just can’t keep up with a six year old on a bike. That is a fact of life and one of the reasons taking the kids riding isn’t too much fun.
A couple of weeks ago, Louise and I saw a wooden two wheeled push bike at MEC. The child would straddle the bike and push himself along using both feet. Surprisingly, the wooden push bike was first introduced in 1817 by Baron Karl Von Draise and was called the Draisienne. It was the forerunner of today’s modern bicycle. The one we saw at MEC was so cute, we almost bought it, but bikes are a parental decision and so far Arwen and Chris are doing pretty good for the most part.
I have seen very young kids on tiny little two wheelers, but mostly I see their mom or dad carrying the bike while the kid walks. They aren’t really very practical. I started to think back to when I was small and a bike was for the big kids. The little kids would ride a tricycle.
Trikes were the vehicle of choice for kids from two to about five or six. I can remember riding my trike with confidence and considerable speed. Well, I went as fast as was safe, but it seemed like mach II to me. I even clothes pinned bubble gum cards on the trike to make it sound like a motorcycle. I am pretty sure that I rode that trike until the summer I was going into grade one. To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t fall off of the trike unless I wanted to fall off. If I got tired of peddling, I would just stop where I was and rest. I imagine if my parents were walking with me they would just stand there and have a cigarette while I got my strength back.
When kids graduated from trikes, they would more than likely get a bike that was far too large for them, the hope being that they would grow into the bike over the next couple of years. This was extremely dangerous and taught you how to balance on a two wheeler really quickly. Most kids would see-saw back and forth over the top tube, using their testicles as a pivot point. It wasn’t odd to see a kid riding a bike with one leg going under the top tube, kind of like riding the bike side saddle.
Tricycles disappeared more or less about thirty years ago. You still see them in some second hand stores, but they sit for a couple of weeks and are then either bought by someone like me who has fond memories of his childhood, or the store just takes it to the dump. It is kind of sad…

My buddy Mars and his wife Alex are in the process of a 1500 kilometre ride down into the US and then back into Canada, through the mountains and back home. Yeah, I kind of think they are nuts too, but I also secretly wish I had the will to do the same thing. The fun thing about their ride is that they are riding recumbent trikes. They (recumbents) are fairly new…ish to the cycling scene, but seem to be very attractive to the baby boomers. Louise and I were riding on the pathway downtown on the weekend and met a woman on a recumbent trike. She couldn’t rave enough about it. She told me it was as comfortable as riding a lawn chair. I was impressed. Perhaps the trike is coming back into fashion, for the geriatric set.
Maybe I can recapture my youth and cruise the highways and byways of Alberta sitting on my ass just as comfortable as you please.

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