Monday, July 16, 2012

The Freedom of a Bike

I remember the thrill of learning to ride a bike when I was five. It happened on first north in Orem. One of my brothers held on to the back of the bike and ran behind me and then I realized his voice was no longer right behind me. I was riding! I rode past the Downs house, past Christensen’s house and fell near the large hedge of lilac bushes right before Black’s house. I rode the bike all day and when my dad came home from work I was excited to show him my new skill. This time I rode straight up our driveway and into a sticker bush between our house and Mckenzies’. I remember Dad helped me up and I was off again—no training wheels for me. Up to McKuen’s house and back down to Blacks. It was a lot of power for a little girl.

It would be years before I would have my own bike, but eventually my parents bought me a two-speed used girls blue Schwinn in the sixth grade. Having a bike was freedom in Orem. There wasn’t anywhere you couldn’t go on a bike. Up State Street to Vern’s fruit stand for banana Creamies, or down the winding hill through the Provo River Bottoms, or down the street to the Dairy Queen for a brown dipper ice-cream cone. This was still my bike when I broke my leg skiing in the ninth grade, Never-the-less I learned to ride the bike with one leg, dangling my right leg with the thigh-high cast.

The first ten-speed I owned I bought with my own money. It was a beautiful dark green Fuji for a hundred and twenty-five dollars. When that bike was stolen the insurance money paid for a new one. Between summers in high school I rode up Provo Canyon to my friend Susan Millett’s house. She lived in Spring Dell. We would head over to the Canyon Glenn and jump off the railroad trestle into Provo River, or go for a hike, or play in the big pond there. Life could not have been any better.

When I started at BYU I sometimes rode my bike from Orem to school.  My brothers thought I was weird. What kind of a girl doesn’t care about what she looks like, rides to school eight or so miles and heads to classes all sweaty? It was invigorating. When I headed to work at Jackson Hole for the summer I took my bike. I rode up to the Tetons just for the view, or I’d head out of town to the Snake River and wade in to cool off after a hard day waiting tables at the Silver Spur.  Once my friend Rosanna and I, who also worked with me in Jackson, took off on our ten-speeds. We stopped at the grocery store and bought a small watermelon. We took turns carrying that melon in backpacks and headed into the mountains on a dirt road. We sat by a beautiful stream and between the two of us ate the entire melon. The stomachache would come later, after the heavy rainstorm that sent us scurrying back to town with mud flying up our backsides. It was the most fun I’d ever had on a bike.

After I was married and had a baby I put a baby seat on the back—and though I am horrified about it now—my baby didn’t have a helmet, but riding bikes with baby in tow kept me sane and less isolated when my husband worked all day. When the baby was in the 1st grade and we had a three year old, we moved out to Grouse Creek. Now we were a dual income family since I was teaching school too.  We bought eighteen-speed mountain bikes. Mine was a red Schwinn. My husband is still riding his Yellow Speicalized more that twenty years later.

About 13 years ago I bought a new bike. We had been living in Paradise for a few years and I made the mistake of test-riding a bike. There’s nothing like the feel of a new bike, so I bought one with shock absorption and still eighteen speeds. Another Blue Schwinn like my first bike. Full circle. Well, I loved that new bike. I took it the first day I owned it and rode ten miles up Paradise South Canyon to the top of the mountain over-looking Eden. With in a couple of months though my beautiful bike was stolen. I was at a meeting at the Paradise Church and I had parked my bike next to door. It was the middle of the day and the town was quiet. I didn’t lock my bike so was uneasy. I checked on it a time or two, and was shocked when the meeting was over and the bike was gone. My friend Annette called the police and then drove me around looking for it. I’d seen a pickup in the parking lot on one of my checks. It was brown. We drove to Mountain Crest High and started looking in the back of trucks. She drove me all over. No luck. I cried and mourned the loss of my bike.

I put up a flyer at the post office offering a reward and describing the bike, but didn’t expect to find it. A week later I came home and there was my bike sitting behind my house! I couldn’t believe it. The water-bottle carrier had been cut off with a hacksaw and the frame cut into a bit, but it wasn’t too bad. My neighbor had been waiting for me. He walked over to tell me the rest of the story. He said a man and his son were standing on my porch. He could see my bike in the back of the truck. My neighbor was a highway patrolman so he came over and said, what are you doing with Carole Warburton’s bike.  “Well my son found it and wants to return it.” My neighbor was dressed in his uniform and is a large intimidating man. “I don’t think you found the bike. Do you want to tell me what really happened?” The story came out that the man had wheedled it out of the young Logan High student that he had indeed found my bike parked next to the door at the church while he and his friends were out for a ride during lunch hour.  Eventually, the boy’s mother brought him out to meet me and apologize and pay me for damages to the bike. I took the money and told him I forgave him. I meant it. I was thrilled to have my bike back. The parents did the responsible thing. I hope the lesson was invaluable to the boy. I hope he never stole again.

Mick on the bike he bought in 1987. Mick said that I said I would only move to Grouse Creek if we bought new bikes. There were fabulous dirt roads and trails in G.C. When one of my best friends moved to G.C. in 1988 I thought I was in heaven.

On the bike that was stolen about 13 years ago.

View up South Canyon
It was on the stolen bike I rode again this morning back up South Canyon, my favorite ride. The road has gotten a lot steeper over the years and seems to be longer. Either that or I am older. :) I still love that bike, though it’s time for a new one. There’s nothing like the feel of a new bike.