Thrills of youth not quite as enjoyable

The idea to steal my brother’s bicycle came to me on a warm summer’s evening.

The idea to steal my brother’s bicycle came to me on a warm summer’s evening.

The next morning – it was a Saturday morning as I recall – I got up and waited around the house for him to take off, on foot, with one of his friends. As soon he left, the deed was done and I was headed for the hills, or  at least the open road since we grew up on the prairies. My legs were not quite long enough to keep my feet on the peddles for a full rotation, so I figured out that I could manage if I sat on the bar and peddled. From that point on I was in business. At least until that one time when I forgot to put the bike back exactly where I had found it. My brother was on to me and the next time he was waiting for me. Upon my return, he gave me a knuckle sandwich for all my efforts.

I still stole his bike at every opportunity, knowing full well what might be could be waiting for me when I got back. But none of that mattered. That bike gave me the freedom to stay out and ride as long and as far as I wanted.

I spend many an hour riding around on my brother’s bike exploring the countryside. Long before there was such a thing as a ‘mountain bike,’ I would ride his bike along trails that would give a mountain goat reason to think twice. I know it took me to some pretty decent fishing holes. Yes sir, that old CCM served me pretty well as a kid.

My first internal-combustion engine-powered vehicle was a pale-green, 1958 Chevy pick-up truck. The body was so rusted the fenders flapped if you went more than 50 miles an hour. It wasn’t long after that thing completely rusted out that I acquired a 1969, 450 cc Honda CL motorcycle. Now that thing really got me into some pretty decent fishing holes.

What I enjoyed the most about riding a motorcycle was the feeling of freedom it gave me when I was riding along some winding backroad, full of twists and turns, with the wind in my face and the feel of the open road ahead.

Over the years I have owned a fair number of vehicles – mostly pick-up trucks and SUV’s. I’m not really much of a four-door sedan type of person. A couple of years ago I bought a shiny new, black, seven-speed, white-walled balloon-tired Norco Cruiser bicycle. I remember the next morning I decided to give it a spin. I sat down on the sheep-skin covered springer seat, rotated the peddle and pushed off. I felt like a kid all over again. I was free to ride as long and as far as I felt like, and the best part was that my brother wouldn’t be waiting for me with a knuckle sandwich when I got back.

I peddled up and down the streets near my home until I found myself on Footshills Road. I huffed and puffed 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 really have all that much hair left.

I was heading out towards Silvercreek, halfway along Salmon River Road, when it occurred to me that whatever distance one pedals in one direction, one has to pedal back. I turned around and headed home, feeling pretty good until I got back into town and I realized Okanagan Avenue lay between me and my house. I think I had probably made it to just about the half-way point up the incline when I decided to put an ad in the newspaper. For sale: one shiny new, black, seven-speed, white-walled balloon-tired Norco Cruiser bicycle.

I don’t think I will ever give up on the notion of heading out on the open road with the wind in my face. However, I think I may have reached that point in my life when I can derive all the pleasure I need from driving something like maybe a Jeep, with the top off and the front window fastened down – just so long as the road isn’t too bumpy, it’s not too dusty, cold or windy, or raining, and there aren’t too many bugs out and I have a padded car seat. I think I’m getting soft.