I like to ride my bike

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, April 2008 ~~

I was a child of the seventies. So the bike I remember most vividly was banana yellow with, of course, a yellow banana seat. The white plastic basket on the front had one pink daisy and one blue, both with yellow centers. For fun I put neon-colored straws on the spokes of my wheels.

I lived on Booker Creek Road, the last street in Lake Forest in Chapel Hill, in a J. P. Goforth house. I went to Seawell Elementary, which was the new school in town. I knew all the words to Free To Be You And Me. In the winters I prayed for snow. In the summers I smelled of lake water.

My friends in the neighborhood were Sarah and Sara and Andrea and Heather and Lauren and Lori and Allie and Jennifer and Kerry and Carrie and Kara and Barbara and Jackie and Bridget and Carol and Carlyn and Carolyn.

We painted our fingernails with Scarlet Ribbon polish and begged our parents for strawberry flavored Kissing Potion and Candies shoes that would give us legs like Farrah Fawcett.

We scared each other with horror stories of Space Dust candy laced with angel dust and spider eggs inside every piece of grape Bubble Yum.

We knew whose mom bought Slim Jims and Doritos and Oreos, and which one bought Cookie Crisp cereal. We knew which dad left Penthouse magazines in an unsecured location.

After school and on weekends and, best of all, late into summer evenings, we played kickball and foursquare in the middle of the road. We splashed in the creek and made dams and threw mud at each other. And we rode our bikes all over the neighborhood.

Booker Creek to Owens Court to Honeysuckle Road to Redbud Drive to Lakeshore Drive to Foxwood Drive to Buxton Court to Springview Trail to Wayfarer Court to Sedgefield Drive to Mayberry Court and back to Booker Creek. We raced each other with pigtails flying. We dared each other to do stunts, like riding standing up or without holding on.

I wound up in the emergency room twice as a result of bike accidents, but that’s not what I remember most about bicycling as a kid. Well, I don’t remember one of my accidents at all because I got a pretty severe concussion… but that’s not my point.

Bicycling felt like freedom. Of my own volition, I could ride towards something with great anticipation. I could ride away with great determination. And I could ride just to ride, with no real particular place to go.

Biking is transportation. Biking is recreation. And for me, in Carrboro all these years later, biking still carries with it a bit of a thrill, which feels like wind and sounds like a rush and smells even now just a little like lake water.

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