Thursday, May 03, 2007

My First Bicycle

My first bicycle was a golden Garry, with a banana-seat. It was a birthday gift for ... number six? Can't remember. But I do recall watching my father remove the bicycle from the trunk of the family Chevrolet.

I've Googled a bit, but this is the only picture I've turned up. It's from an eBay sale, no longer listed. This model is older than the one I had. It's also a "girl's" model, which surely accounts for its excellent condition. And I never had a headlight. But the handlebars ("sissy bars") are similar, as is the seat design (mine was a glittery blue, with white stripes down the sides). Curious to note the Winnipeg license plate on the front wheel. Were Garrys made locally (as in, "Fort Garry")?

A few weeks before I received my bike, some neighborhood kids got me pedalling on a small CCM children's bike. The construction of that bicycle, in contrast to the Garry, was closer to what mountain bikes are today -- designed, in other words, to distribute the child's centre of gravity between the pedals, seat and handlebars. A banana seat puts the child's weight squarely on the back wheel, and makes balancing trickier.

It was bitter medicine for me to relearn how to ride a bicycle. When my father finally allowed me on the streets, then accompanied me on his bicycle, I shrieked at him to quit swerving toward me. Funny how it's my younger daughter who now shrieks at me.


DarkoV said...

Bicycle shrieking and ski shrieking are quite similar as fear, adventure, exhileration, motion, speed, giddiness/nervous laughter and the possibilities of crashing all come together in one high pitch. Is it delight? Or anger? Or terror? Or joy? I'd say "Yes" to all of them. Movement does it to us all.

DarkoV said...

On that CCM link, I especially liked this delivery bike. When I lived in Outremont on the north side of Mount Royal, you saw these grocery-laden tankers plying Rue Laurier at fairly high speeds. The bikes were rugged and the drivers all looked something like this character. As the delivery boys zigged and zagged through the traffic, there would inevitably be accidents. But the bike-riders were usually o.k., the bikes were had nary a bent spoke, and the cheap cars were severely dented. Ah, those were the days of domestic steel mills and North American mines.

Yahmdallah said...

I had that exact same bike as a kid, but mine was green and was a boy's. The killer gear ratio forever put me behind my buddies when we went up hills, too.

Peter said...

I believe the term "sissy bar" refers not to the handlebars, but to the metal loop behind the seat.

Whisky Prajer said...

D-man - movement certainly unlocks something very primal in us, doesn't it? Perhaps something a little more primal for the French Canadians than for the rest of us.

Y-man - that single gear was indeed a killer. Not so many hills, in my case, but the winds coming across the prairies could certainly reduce an 8 year old to a gasping, wheezing, gelatinous casualty.

Peter - really? That might be technically correct, but in our town it was definitely the handlebars we were referring to. I'm sure I still have some "healing" to do from it, too.

trentreimer said...

Ah the easy rider influence. Try telling the local (70's) chopper gang those are sissy bars. I remember customized motorcycles sporting those things. The irony is that just a week ago I talked with a big teenager riding a chopper inspired bike. Sadly the handle bars were not this retro.

Whisky Prajer said...

Hey! Settle down - you're anticipating my next post!

BTW, I see from the Wikipedia entry that "Sissy Bars" is actually the polite term for a chopper/bicycle's back-rest.