Bicycling – One of my First Loves

Rouge Park, Detroit, Michigan

Way oh way back, when I was maybe 7 years old, our family took a bicycle trip from Berkley, Michigan to Rouge Park in Detroit. The trip was about 15 miles long and took maybe two hours. That is my earliest memory of taking a long bicycle trip. (It was almost my last bike trip as at one point I started to ride down the middle of a freeway exit ramp. Fortunately I avoided getting into a collision and my parents survived a heart attack.) Still, aside from the several mishaps of the day, I was hooked and have had a love of bicycling ever since.

Join the Friends of Rouge Park 

If memory serves, that was the day my older brother, Ron, was riding down hill ‘Hell bent for leather,’ when I showed up out of nowhere, right in the middle of his path. Ron had no choice but to hit me or crash. Fortunately he chose crash. I don’t know who got the worse of it, my brother or his bicycle. Ron, to this day, still has not forgiven me.

My second love as a young boy was ‘water’. As a child my impulsive behavior was well established. One day, on three separate occasions at three separate locations, I went running off a dock and jumped into water that was over my head. (Did I mention I did not know how to swim?) My father, each time having to jump into the water, fully clothed, wearing a wrist-watch and having a wallet in his pocket, finally had enough. He decided that it was time I learned how to swim. (I am certain the little kid in me was saying, “Yes! I am finally going to be taught how to swim.)

My reckless abandon coupled with the freedom a bicycle gives led to many chance journeys. I have written about riding to the Detroit Zoo as a young boy without my parent’s permission (or knowledge). I actually did that on several occasions. Once upon a time the Detroit Zoo was a great place for a boy to spend the day sans parental supervision. (Read that story here.)

My bicycle has also been a productive tool. It led to my first job. I was a paperboy for the Berkley Advance and the Daily Tribune. When I was 14, I got a job at a park that was 7-8 miles from home. It was my bicycle that got me there and back. More than once in my adult life I have had to rely on my bicycle to get me to and from work. Today, for instance. We have a car in the shop and it is way easier for our daily logistics that I ride a bicycle  to the clinic instead of my wife having to drop me off and pick me up.

Pure happiness, the bicycle. Is there anything that leads to more adventure? To more wind in your hair – bug in your teeth fun? I had not ridden a bicycle in years. Recently I replaced the tubes, tires and seats of our well-worn Trek bicycles and have been remembering the joy of being an 7-year-old boy again.

Editor’s note:

One of my more newfound loves is the Internet. While writing this post I remembered delivering newspapers for ‘The Daily Tribune‘. I haven’t thought of that newspaper in over 30 years and I was not certain that I had the name right. A quick check on the Internet, and boom there it was, the home page of the Daily Tribune.

Then I decided I needed a picture of Rouge Park, and bam, there it was. Thank-you to Little House on the Urban Prairie for a great picture.

Then I wanted to use the phrase, ‘Hell bent for leather,’ but I wasn’t sure I was using it correctly (or even if I made the phrase up entirely). Another quick search, and bang, there it was, thanks to The Word Detective.