Many moons ago when I was about 8 or 9 I guess (I was a late bike learner), my cousin Gene used to come visit us for several weeks each summer. Gene was my hero. He lived in another state, he was older, he knew everything. I like to think that he deserves some credit for who I’ve become, but I digress.
Gene had a bicycle that I desparately wanted to ride, but I didn’t know how. Let me mention that at this time, I can’t be much more than 4 feet tall if that whereas Gene had to be over 5 feet by then. I didn’t have my own bicycle to learn, and my parents weren’t really interested in buying me one right away. And despite their disinterest, they forbade me from riding Gene’s bike. In retrospect, a grand idea as the bike was way too big for me. Then, I just thought they were evil.
As young ones do when everyone is at work all day, I went behind their backs and asked Gene to teach me to ride a bicycle. Unaware of my not having permission, Gene proceeded to try to instruct me in the nuances of balancing and pedaling. We would start at the top of the yard and go to the bottom of the yard (it was a gentle slope). Oddly enough, the lessons didn’t include how to stop and that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.
Disaster had a new name, and it’s name sounded a heck of a lot like mine. As I cruised through the yard, gaining momentum, I got away from Gene and I headed toward the street. I didn’t know how to stop. I started to panic. I vaguely remember hearing him yell, but what was more important to me was the fact that I was heading straight for a car that was coming up the road.
Time really has a way of slowing down right before you crash your bicycle into a car. Fortunately, though, the car contained one of our neighbors, who had likely seen me riding against my parents’ wishes earlier in the day and was able to stop before he crushed me and Gene’s bike under his car. I got off lucky. A scrape on my elbow and no damage (major anyways) to Gene’s bike. The neighbor went about his business like it didn’t happen and never told my parents that I know of. I was quite the tomboy so any new scrapes that weren’t bleeding profusely were no cause for alarm from my parents.
Gene and I came to a mutual agreement that I shouldn’t ride his bike anymore. I did eventually get my own bike though, and I rode it everywhere. Except into the path of cars.