Long time readers of this blog will remember this photo of me on my first bike – a trike, actually, which served me very well until I was about 5 or 6 years old, but then I wanted something better and faster. After all, trikes do not go fast, and they tip over if you try to go fast around corners on them and once your legs reach a certain length, you get knee strike on the handlebars. So I began to cast my eyes to the two wheelers which all the older neighbourhood kids were riding.
The two wheelers on our block were all large bikes – they had either 28″ or 26″ wheels. I don’t think that smaller bikes for kids of my age existed then, or if they did I did not see them or know anyone who had one, and trainer wheels were unheard of, this was very early in the 1960s after all. So I learned to ride a two wheeler when I was 6 by begging those older kids if I could have a go at riding their bikes. I learned that the only ones I could ride were the girls bikes with drop frames (though I did attempt to ride diamond frame bikes by putting my leg underneath the top tube, but it did not work). When I could get my hands on a 26″ girls’ bike for 15 or so minutes, I would make some progress, and after a few attempts I could ride one, and I only had one small fall in the learning process. This way of learning to ride, where I rode other kids’ bikes whenever I got the chance, had to suffice until I was 10 years old and got the Speedwell, which I now ride, for my tenth birthday. It was a 28″ wheeler and I must have not been able to ride it properly, I have no photos of me riding it as a child but I do have memories of sitting on the saddle with my legs unable to reach the pedals, a riding position I would adopt once I got a bit of momentum up. Then to pedal I would have to slide down onto the pedals, I could sit or pedal, not both at the same time until I grew into the bike at around 13 years of age.