Summer Bike Rides

April 20, 2008
On sunny days, I would ride my bike all over the neighborhood. I could spy on the football coach, who lived near us, and who had most likely just had a party the night before. Or I could ride past the Johnson’s mansion to see if Abby was home. Or I could ride past Drake’s house, or Jesse’s, or anyone’s really. When I was on my bike, the world was mine.

The biggest and best hill in the neighborhood was the one leading down St. Andrew’s Drive. It was tough getting up to the top, but each ride down gave me such a feeling of free-falling that I couldn’t resist. Each time, I would have to go between the neighbor boys who could often be found playing water guns. I sometimes played with them. We never learned each other’s names, or how old we were, or what school we came from, but the hot pursuit of the target can bring anyone together.

On cooler days, I would stop at Johnson’s. Their home was one of the biggest in town, and it was gorgeous. Abby, their only child was in my class, and I would stop at her house to see if she was shooting hoops out back. Secretly, we would watch her neighbor, who was a year older than us, and a couple years meaner, fly his kite. He looked so silly flying that kite after all the work that went into his “tough guy” act at school. We would laugh, but he never knew. If he suspected anything, he never showed.

He really wasn’t so mean. We played capture the flag using the boundaries of the Johnson’s and his house, the Cook’s. His name was Kyle, and although we never made good friends, I was glad to lose the fear of being beaten up by him after school, which was a silly fear in the first place; that kind of thing never happened at our school.

My brother always wanted to come along. He liked to glide down the big hill and play water fights. But he was shy, and so his trips were less frequent.

My bike was not really mine; it was a bike that we had purchased for five dollars at a garage sale, and it was actually intended to be my mother’s. So it was slightly small for me, and dusty. But it was a bike. The only problem was the big hill. On my way home, I sometimes couldn’t get up the hill. The bike’s gears would go crazy and I would have to stop and push it the rest of the way up. There were the few times though, when Kyle’s brother, Jim, would be cruising by in his black convertible. He would stop and say,

“Bike troubles?” I nodded.

“I can’t get up the hill. If I slow down to help the gears, I’ll shoot downhill going backwards, or I’ll brake abruptly and be thrown off!”

“Do you want a lift?” I was in wonderment. Of course I wanted to ride in the shiny black vehicle and listen to his loud Led Zeppelin/ Elton John mix CD.

“But where do we put my bike?”


“Wow!” So I put the bike in the backseat as if it was a child, and I hopped into the car without opening the door. My aunt had a blue Mustang convertible so I was used to not using the door, and was a pro at jumping. My cousins and I used the canned term, “jumping cars” for it, and we would tell people we were good at it, and they would try to find us help. “No, that’s not what we mean”, we would have to say. "It's a different kind of jumping cars."

Our other neighbors, the Wrights, would often go to the Country Club pool that we lived by. They had a daughter a year younger than me, Cara, and a daughter a year older than me, Mia. Mia had a twin brother who was Kyle’s age, and Mrs. Cook was one of my mother’s good friends. So, it was a three family party, and pretty soon everyone in the family would arrive at the pool.

It was perfect then. We lived right by a pool, a park, and a football coach. Our neighborhood has already changed somewhat (Jim is off to college soon, Mia is in high school now, the list goes on) and it will continue to change. But my memories of spying, capture the flag, swimming, and riding bikes will be with me forever.

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