James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the ORL Salmon Arm branch. (File photo)

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Great Outdoors by James Murray

It was in the early hours of a Saturday morning now long past that I made the conscious decision to steal my brother’s two wheel bike.

I wheeled it out of the backyard, climbed on and took off for open country.

At first my legs weren’t quite long enough to make a complete rotation of the pedals, so I sat on the bar and peddled the best I could. I eventually figured out that if I lowered the seat, my legs were just long enough.

A small crescent wrench in a little leather tool bag attached to the back of the seat could be used to adjust its height. From that point on I was in business.

My brother was waiting for me when I returned later that day and gave me a knuckle sandwich for my efforts. After that, however, everything was out in the open, so to speak, and I purloined his bike at every opportunity – knowing full well he would be waiting to give me my lumps when I got back. None of that mattered – the bike gave me the freedom to stay out and ride as long and as far as I wanted.

I spend a lot of hours riding around on that bike exploring the countryside. Long before there was such a thing as a mountain bike, I would ride my brother’s bike along trails that a mountain goat would think twice about. I used it to get into some of the best fishing holes I could find.

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That old CCM did the both of us pretty well until someone stole it. We never saw it again. Nor did we ever get another one.

About 10 years passed before I acquired my next ride, a 450 cc Honda CL motorcycle. It too got me into some pretty decent fishing holes. However, the thing I enjoyed the most about riding a motorcycle was the feeling of freedom it gave me while riding along some road full of twists and turns. There’s just something about having an open road in front of you and the feel of the wind in your face. Not to mention the occasional insect in your teeth or up your nostril.

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to try out one of those electric assist, white-walled, fat-tired cruiser style bicycles. Several of our neighbours have them. They are pretty cool. There is even talk among some of forming a seniors biker gang of sort. The only minor drawback to them that I could find was the $2,000-plus price tag. But it has me thinking.

So the other day I decided to haul out a lightly used seven-speed, black Norco Cruiser I bought a few years back and give it a spin.

With a slight bit of trepidation, I sat down on the sheep-skin covered springer seat, rotated the peddle and pushed off. Suddenly I felt like a kid all over again. I was free to ride as long and far as I felt. And the best part – my brother wasn’t there waiting for me with a knuckle sandwich when I got back.

I peddled up and down the streets near my home. Granted, I did huff and puff a few times trying to make it up some of the hills along the way, but the effort was well worth it when I got to cruise down the other side, crouched over the handlebars, with the wind in my hair. Not that I have a lot of hair left.

I haven’t totally given up on the idea of purchasing one of those electric assist bikes. I mean, it would get me outdoors a bit more – and then there’s that feeling of the wind in your hair.

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