Where did my bicycle story go?

I lost it somewhere on my computer. Thought that I had saved it somewhere on my harddrive…but cannot find it.  I can’t even remember if this was the livespace that I originally posted it on.  With summer coming in these parts, it seemed a timely story to post…

I really have been thinking a lot about bicycling of late…what with the warmer weather arriving…and my bicycle collecting dust in the basement for months now.  I never had my own bike until I was 15, and my oldest sister was working… she bought me a bright red ten-speed, that I rode everywhere!  Heck, I saw most of the world on that bike (okay, okay, it was just he local world that I toured) (two mile radius of home) but I was pretty independent on that thing.

I have to laugh out loud at the thought…those skinny tires, on these backroads…and 32 years ago, Winfield township was pretty well known for its ‘washboard’ roads.  Well, that was only the black topped roads. The dirt roads rarely had washboard issues, just severe dust issues come summer…but then the township truck would come by and spray oil on the road!

Yep, heard that right, my oh my, how times have changed.  Now, spill a quart of oil and the DEP is wanting you to clean it up, put it in a drum marked "hazardous waste’ and pay to have it taken to a special landfill…

But time was when my siblings and I had one bicycle to share between the eight of us.

It was not your average bike with a bright primary color painted on…and sparkling chrome wheels, Oh my, no!  My father had acquired it from some place other that the local Gaylord’s or GC Murphy’s store…

My dad was a busy guy, and rarely bothered with things such as toys for his kids; that was mom’s doing. Dad was a farmer, a spring maker, and was in charge of maintenance at the local college and seminary. As part of his duties at the seminary, he drove the priests and the brothers out  to Harrisburg for government surplus’ auctions. Being non-profit–the Catholic seminary was allowed to purchase items, and they did quite frequently.

When he arrived home from one of his Harrisburg trips, without ado, he presented a bicycle to all eight of us!  It was fantastic! The day nearly mirrored Christmas!  We were so excited it was all that we could do to take waiting our turns. Oh!  You should have seen it!  My God! I can still see it… in that shade of army green!!!

There was never a finer or a prettier bicycle made…and had a soul said otherwise, i would surely have fought to defend our bike’s honor!

We had to take turns of course…and the truth of it was this: The older kids were big enough ( read, had long enough legs) to reach the peddles, but alas, the younger three of us were a might too short for this big boy… but there was a way!

In fact, there was a way to have three of us ride it at once. One (bigger kid) standing and peddling, one kid sitting on the seat behind them holding their waist, and one kid sitting on the handle bars (desperately trying to keep their feet above that front tire). It helped to have another kid give the bike a push to get it going (carrying such a load).

Imagine how that looked? And then include the other four kids running along after, waiting for the wreck!

Nah, not to pick people up and dust them off, but to grab the bike and take their turn while the victims with skinned knees and elbows cried and shouted indignities at having their bike taken…!

We had that bike for a few years, and it toiled ceaselessly.  We rode it on the lane and up and down the pasture fields, and no doubt dreamed wondrous places that we gliding—while the wind blew in our faces.

Ah, that such a wonderful thing could last forever! But is was not to be.  That poor old bike paid its dues, and finally reached the point that the brakes did not function and that coincided with the bike being capable of being peddled backwards..Oh yes!  Our army green bike now had a reverse!  We did not know how it had happened, but it was way neat!

And along came the reign of Evel Keneivel, did I spell that right?  Not the point anyway, the point being, that my brothers were suddenly enamored of, and fantasizing about the stunt abilities of two wheeled vehicles…

It was a sunny spring day, and if I remember correctly, we were playing ball in front of the barn, the barn made an excellent backstop.  We had one bat, and one ball that was a rock with black electrical tape (pilfered–yes, swiped) from my dad’s workshop, wrapped around it over and over again. It probably would have been cheaper to buy baseballs than black electrical tape!

My oldest brother, fueled by the televising of the latest evel Keneivel stunt, announced that he intended to ride our green bike down over the hill above the corn crib.

Let me describe that hill. It is steep. there was a ‘cow path’ there. Not anything that a person would consider a road. It was only used for planting and growing season access to the lower fields– to save driving in from above, over top of planted fields.

We begged him not to do it; older siblings who knew better, warned him not to do it!  Ah, but he must have been about twelve that year…and bulletproof…

We watched him push the bike up that hill.  Around rocks, and a wide bend…

I was standing on a huge stone that served as a step up into the corn crib…and just past me, at a nearly right angle turn, my three oldest sisters stood, watching…knowing…

They shouted one more warning as he stopped and turned the bike. He stood bedside it, just that moment, for the drama…the suspense to build.

I wondered, will he do it? Or will he chicken out?

My other two brothers, just a bit older than me a bit younger than him shouted encouragement…

He swung his leg up over the crossbar, and then he was on the seat, peddling…slowly…slowly…painfully slow it was to start…and then he got to the really steep part of the hill..and the peddling stopped as his feet were held out to the sides of the bike to clear the peddles that were spinning with an accelerating life of their own.

Oh, forgot to mention that?  Not only did our bike have reverse, but the peddles also never ceased to move turn when you moved forward…always in gear, I reckon!

He was still smiling this silly sort of wild eyed grin…that i had NEVER seen before! And then he seemed to be moving too fast to avoid the rocks…he was airborne at times, as he cleared them, and then he was flying up off of the seat, and then nearly wiped out…and recovered just in…oh, oh my!  How can he hang on to the handlebars?  How does he land back on the seat after flying up like that? I don’t think he is going to…wow! way too fast!!!  "SLOOOOOW DOOOOWN!!! YOOOOOOUUU ARE GONNA WREEEEEEEEECK!!! Holy crap!  Then to everyone, by everyone at he bottom of that hill, ‘RUUUUUUUN!!"

We scattered to the four winds, running for our lives, unsure of just where that bike would stop!

He ran across some big bumpy rocks near the bottom, and he was flying! Nearly got the handlebars straightened again when


Right into the big rock step in front of the corn crib.

We all ran back to where he had stopped. The bike wheel was still spinning…kind of crooked, but still spinning…

And there was major damage.  Irreparable damage…

My brother?  I can’t remember if he got hurt or not?  None of us cared! 

It was the bike that was hurt!

The frame was bent, and the rusted black wheels were twisted in an unnatural way too…

And that day probably pointed my brother in the direction of being a farmer by profession, rather than a stunt cyclist!!!

…and just for the record…, when I got my ten speed, I would never have let my oldest brother ride it!


About Teresa Cypher

I live with my husband in a humble house in the middle of a tall stand of hardwoods, bordered by soybean and corn fields, in western Pennsylvania. Mother of three adult children and "Grammie" to one sweet little girl, I revel in family gatherings and celebrations. My husband and I care for the gardens on our property--our little corner of heaven, have a glass of wine at sunset, and like to watch the stars come out. Currently working in QC and Development for a Bio-technology Company that produces green, agricultural products. I came into the world a creator of stories. Having been born into a litter, the 7th of 8 children, in a farming family, I have spent most of my life trying to be an individual. My dreams took me there. From the time I was a little girl, I was a thinker, spending any time I could find to be alone--the bastion of undisturbed thoughts, dreaming of other worlds and of fairy-tale love. My mind never shut off-- through the years when thoughts allowed me to escape the everyday world of farm life, to the daydreams while I was raising children and being the cook, the baker, the candlestick maker,and the taxi driver-- all while working full time. It took until middle age for me to realize that my meandering mind was writing stories! Once I sat down and started typing, it took 2 months to write my first book. My biggest challenge at first was getting my fingers to type fast enough to keep up with my mind. My daughter bought me a small digital recorder so I could save my thoughts until my fingers could catch up. The story that I wrote, Across The Night Sky ,was years in the making, and timed well...after I had experienced real life and the joys and heartaches it brings. I think that time gave me a well-spring of experiences from which to merge fairy-tale love with the cynicism adult life creates--while never losing sight of the beautiful and wonderful that love is. Writing is my passion...this incredible discovery in mid life that often keeps me up till the wee hours of the morning. I am so very fortunate to have the opportunity to devote my time to something that brings me such joy.
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8 Responses to Where did my bicycle story go?

  1. Ewe says:

    OMG!! Willow. I too had a similar experience when I was a kid, only instead of a bicycle, it was a home-made go-cart that we kids put together from spare bicycle parts and some pilfered lumber out of dad\’s garage. And just like your bike, it too had pedals that spun even when you took your feet off of them, usually skinning up our shins. We had a rope for steering control, and also it made it easier to pull this monsterous thing back up the hill. And when I say hill, it usually was the street we lived on, which started out on a slight grade, but ended up near the bottom, as steep as anything you could possibly ride down on. At the bottom of the hill was a row of hedges that we used to "brake" into, because there was no way you could get your feet back on the pedals once you started over the steep part of the hill. Uncle Pete would always come out and tell us to quit running into his hedges, or he would burn our "wheels", lol, but even if he would\’ve, we would\’ve just made another one, costing him more of his lumber, lol.
    Nice article Willow, it brought back fond memories. Thanks.

  2. Willow says:

    Hi Ewe!  What is it about kids and things that move on wheels?? Your comment made me laugh, about the pedals of the gocart spinning all of the time.   Lol, and there were always adults who pyed the price for our "inventions"… looking back though, I wonder how m,any times my dad realized the things that were \’borrowed\’ from his little workshop, and just turned his head…
    Oh well!  Really, we were inventors too.  After the bike was wrecked, my brothers took a saw, and some old lumber and built very crude \’rubber band\’ guns, lol–or were they "gumband" guns.  They used a couple pices of wood, one nail, and the old bike innertubes cut into maybe 1/4 inch pieces…and we shot each other with the innertube gumbands!
    🙂 and that is likely another blog… about playing war… and why did we do it?  My younger sister and I always had to be the Japanese soldiers (WWII era) and we always got captured, and then we were held as pows under the front porch prison camp… for  what seemed like hours…or until the threat of being shot at close range by the gumband gun became far less than the measure of boredom that we were suffering… and then  we just got tired of the arrangement and said, "We quit!"
    Ahh, childhood, was it really so long ago?  Seems like just yesterday  😉
    Thanks for stopping by my friend!

  3. Ewe says:

    Oh my, here we go….the things we used to "play" as youngsters, lol. Yes, war was always a standby, but it wasn\’t that creative. You were either the good guy or the bad guy, and we always had sound effects that went along with our "guns" don\’t forget. My brothers and used to play….now get this….we\’d play, "Kennywood". This is where we would create all kinds of contraptions out of anything we could find that we could cause to move in some way. A wheelbarrow became a "ride" that would dump you at any given time, and things like this. When we were young and lived on the outskirts of town, we didn\’t see that many other kids, so we had to be creative and come up with our own entertainment. Ah yes, the minds of children can be quite creative when they are bored, lol.
    Now that I think about it, our trips to Kennywood would make a great blog. I just might do that, but I\’d like to hear your stories first. You do have a colorful way of reminiscing, and I know you had to have gone there.

  4. Unknown says:

    Well done Willow! An incredible story full of adventure and excitement, danger and suspense, lol!  Having had similar experiences  launching my bike head-long into water or rocketing over objects I completely relate to the value of the experience you shared. Thanks for a great time!  In my youth, my brother was the instigator of some of the most daring ideas of danger and I the experimenter (read fool) willing to take life and limb to the boundaries of youthful endurance.  Gosh what a great time that was! I remember him convincing me that to leap from the top of a Chinaberry tree holding the four corners of a sheet would result in a gentle, sloping glide to earth, just like the sky divers we saw at a recent airshow.  After falling 30 feet, getting up and shaking off the impact, I chased him for nearly 2 miles threatening his very existence on earth. Being smaller and more agile than me he managed to dodge the rocks, sticks, and anything else I threw at him to stop his retreat.  Before long we both colapsed from absolute physical exhaustion at which point he began to laugh uncontrolably. Seeing him flop around laughing (much like a fish out of water) I couldn\’t help but join him and after making my way over to him we laughed in harmony as we arm in arm, started the long walk back home to plan our next adventure.  Ahhh…those were the days!

  5. Unknown says:

    lol!  A great story, Willow!   Made me think of being a kid and riding my bike down the hill in front of our house…and all the \’tricks\’ we tried with our bikes, like riding over the notorious \’bumpy bridge\’ (a cattleguard).  Just last Sunday, I went with Michael to where he keeps things in storage and he showed me his first bike…a Schwinn…black with white trim…restored to where it even has the whitewall tires.  I joked and asked if he would ride it with me on the handlebars (we did that a lot, lord knows how we managed to survive)…and then it made me nervous because he would be just crazy enough to do it!  Fortunately, the tires needed air…so I was spared from actually having to meet up with my challenge.  I loved to ride my bicycle…and riding my motorcycle takes me back to those times!  yeehaw!   Thanks for the great story! 

  6. Willow says:

    Ewe…hmm, I did go to Kennywood once when I was 13, and then I did not go back again until I was nearly 40.  We  had the local SaxonburgFireman\’s carnival every summer in July when I was a kid…and that was our big outing.  Mom would drop all eight of off at one end of the carnival grounds–with a  20 dollar bill. That bought 8 admissions — 8 bucks for ride all day, and then we divided the rest for games, a drink and take your pick–a sno-cone or cotton candy. ( I always picked the sno-cone) I could always mooch some cotton candy off of someone, lol… 😉  We went to Conneaut Lake park. When I was 11, my oldest sister got a job at what was then the Butler County Mushroom farm, and they had a summer picnic every year at Conneaut.  Lol, that was 1 1/2 hours north of home, and I can remember riding there in the back of a pickup truck…whatever it took to get there.  It was the first place that i ever tasted a taco.  Weird the things that you recall, huh?  So, Ewe… blog it…and please let me a note so I will not miss it!

  7. Willow says:

    Bear, my friend… Oh my! I wish that you would get busy and do some serious blogging!  Just that short piece had me visualizing you and your brother, lol — "Oh barefoot boy with legs of tan, I mark him at his play."  I loved it. I hope that you are still so close to your brother…
    Were you always a two-wheeled daredevil???
    I have to ask Bear…what did you do wrong?  Did you not hold the corners just so?  Because there is no reason that I can think of, that it should not have glided you gently to the ground?   Unless… oh no…oh my…you mean that it is not true??? And that it does not work???   😦   I am crushed!
    lol, could not resist a little teasing there…  I never tried the parachute thing, heck, lol, as clumsy as I am… I just went ahead and fell out of the tree, no gentle gliding even hoped for!  And when you land flat on your back…and you are six years old–you don\’t understand what it means to have the wind knocked out of you…and then you lay there, panicking…looking at the sky first, and then the faces of your siblings as they look at you and mumble non-chalantly, something about the wind…mumble…mumble….mumble…and you only know for sure that you are dying and that they don\’t seem to care.
    Such is life when you are the fool that is willing to climb the chokecherry tree for the best cherries—ah, such jelly they make though!  Thanks for reading my stuff Bear!  I will drop by soon…  🙂

  8. Willow says:

    Hey Rose!! 🙂 Thank God for low tires, lol… yep, I know what you mean. I wonder sometimes how we ever survived without safety gear, and professional training and instruction!!  That Michael sounds like a bit of a wild man! Hmm, better hang on to that one… I am sure that you are sensible enough to keep him in bounds.  Sheesh!  Men, how do they go tjhrough life witjhout seriously injuring themselves–ya know, without a woman keeping them out of foolhardy harm\’s way???
    So tell me girl…have you always enjoyed the two-wheeled lifestyle…or just when did that start?? I had to laugh at the bumpy bridge, that is cute!  We had an electric fence crossing the lane…and I recall our old army bike…once it developed "reverse" (hence, no longer had brakes…and we would ride down that steep hill and had to rely on the feet dragging to stop the bike. Well, one person big enough to peddle, and two others (or even just one) riding extra…was a lot to ask of a kid to get that bike stopped…so…occasionally we ran into the electric fence!!! lol…
    My friend, you are quite welcome for the story, and I thank you for the compliment! 

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