When I was eight, I was not the most coordinated girl, but I longed for a bike of my own. I wanted to ride to the corner store that had a glass case filled with full size candy bars, to the library to walk through the rows of books, and maybe even to the park with friends.
Dad made my bike our project. He had a way of making an adventure of things. The first step was a trip to the junk yard for a bike frame. The junk yard is a sad place. You had to walk among the parts and pieces as if you are weaving through the tombstones in a graveyard, as we did my heart began to sink.
The bike frame we found was tired and warn, and Dad must have sensed what I was feeling. He looked at me, his blue eyes dancing with anticipation, and promised my bike would be good as new. He had always been true to his promises and my heart lifted with a seed of hope.
Back in our garage we sanded and primed, making my bike frame ready for painting. As Dad spray painted my bike frame midnight blue, my seed of hope began to blossom. Next came the chain, the pedals, seat bar and handlebars. Then the beautiful white handlebar covers with streamers, blue, white and red. I could almost see them blowing in the wind. Finally, the crowing piece, my banana shaped bike seat, white and covered in bright and glorious flowers.
Dad’s final touch for my beautiful bike were meticulously cut, thin strips of white auto tape making jazzy pinstripes. Then he painstakingly wrote out my name on my chain cover, one pinstripe at a time.
Then came the more difficult part: this uncoordinated girl had to learn to ride a bike. Days of trying to keep my bike upright while peddling seemed to be an impossible feat. Dad tried all the tricks, running beside me, letting go while trying to make me think he was still holding on. I spent far too much time looking back to ensure he was still holding on and once I realized he wasn’t down I would go.
With each crash I cried at the new dent or scratch it left behind on my beautiful new bike. Dad consoled me with his practical thoughts, “A dented bike is a well-used bike, it gives it character.”
We decided that the quiet alley beside our house was the softer place for me and my bike to practice, and practice I did. Finally, the day came when I had mastered the art of bike riding. My bike was officially well-used by then and I was grateful that my streamers were still intact.
Riding a bike proved to be just as I had dreamed, carrying me to all of my favorite places.