Tuesday, November 2

Hey mighty brontosaurus

Don't you have a lesson for us?

The other day, I had a series of long runs to do at work.  I put on my bone conduction headphones and followed some strange urge to pull up "Synchronicity" on YouTube.  As soon as the title track kicked in, I was magically transported back about thirty something years ago into the past.

Had I held onto mine, it woulda been worth enough to buy two seats in Row F at a Sting '21 concert.

Summer of '84... or '85... or '86.  Doesn't really matter in the context of the story.  It was more than likely all the above.  I can only guesstimate based on the fact that I had an auto-reverse Walkman loaded with Police "Synchronicity" on one side of a 120 minute cassette tape and Huey Lewis and the News "Sports" (both released in 1983) on the other, and I would have been riding my 1984 Olympic Edition Murray 12 speed.

Best picture I could find of my beloved bike that I bought with my own hard earned, hay-bailing $120.  I can remember because my dad thought I was wasting a lot of money, because I'd have my drivers license in a few years, and I'd never ride a bike again.

Anyways, I had a friend that lived (what seemed like) a million miles away from me, being that the majority of my local rural friends lived within a 1.5 mile radius of our mobile home.  By "radius," I mean they either lived west or east on Route 6, a very popular road for semis, drunk drivers (you gotta get home from work somehow), and people who liked to randomly park their vehicles in ditches.  My Murray 12 speed expanded my range and enabled me to ride over the PA border to my friend Todd's house close to five actual miles away.    

Todd had everything that unsupervised teenage boys could want.  A pool, three wheelers, satellite TV, salacious periodicals, a pool table, guns, slingshots, snowmobiles, power tools, farm machinery, and lots of open space to abuse most of those things.  He was what I thought being "rich" would be like.

I spent as much time there as I could during the summer.  Todd lived on a farm, and of course that meant his life of privilege came with daily chores.  I'd help Todd clean up cow shit, pick corn, toss bails of hay, dump feed where feed goes (1%er people work)... whatever it took to get it over with as fast as possible so we could get to his rich people toys.

To this day, I can't believe my parents let me ride a bike on Route 6.  Those were different times tho.  Their only concern with my safety was that I be home before this ambiguous time known as "dark."  I didn't own a watch, street lights aren't a thing in BFE, and I firmly believed that time is and always will be a construct.

My parents expected me home before dark regardless ... for my own "safety."  It's not like I had a helmet... or lights... or that my parents forbade me to grab my Walkman and have Huey Lewis and the News pumping into my developing brain through my earholes.


There were so many evenings that I can remember riding as fast as I could as the semis came around me on the narrow two lane road honking their horns.  The drunks headed to (or from) the bowling alley veering across the yellow lines.  The strange noises off in the woods when it was dead quiet and about as dark as the inside of Satan's buttholes.  All the while, I'm destroying myself trying to cross the finish line before this random (to me) event known as "darkness" ended my game for good.

To be honest, I don't think my parents ever said anything to me about my arrival time.  No commendations for beating the sunset by twenty minutes, but also no reprimand for coming up the driveway in the pitch black of a country night.  I don't think that they didn't love me.  They were probably more like "ok, he's alive," and that was that.

When I think about those many days (nights?) of my childhood riding into a setting sun driven by the fear of a good tongue lashing and mebbe the back of my dad's hand, I wonder if that's where the foundation was laid for me to want to race my bike.  The adrenaline fueled chase, the looking over my shoulder, the abject fear of a failure that can't be exactly defined... the stupidity of doing it over and over again.  

Racing is the only thing that gives me the joyous tingles of being the same stupid teenager walking the fine line of personal safety and self-fulfilled but also dubious glory, all at this age that I woulda considered elderly at the time... of fifty two years old.  Well... I guess mebbe my job can occasionally bring a similar excite, but I'm a "professional," so whatevs.  Thank dawg I have these outlets available to me.

Viva bike racing.

If I forgot to say it already, welcome to the addled remains of my psyche.  Happy International Single Speed Day.


craig said...

Great post Dicky!

Stu Pedaso said...

Thanks; now I gots this Metallica?leo abomination stuck in my head for my ride today.

OkieBrian said...

I grew up not too far from that neck of the woods (about 7 miles south of Meadville), spending most of my high school age days working on a dairy farm. I can remember being 12 years old and riding my Vista 10-speed 2 miles up the road at 4:30am to go milk cows.

Rob Kristoff said...

Where you from in Ohio again? I was in PA, a couple miles from the OHIO border.

dicky said...

I grew up in Pierpont.