Here is a story using 700 words. I have told parts of it here before, so skip over what seems familiar.
My youngest daughter is getting ready to pack up for college, and she wants a new bike to ride on campus. She has had a bike in the past, a series of them, in fact, but she hasn’t had one since she has been of adult height. So, we have had to go shopping.
I have been thinking I’d like a new bike myself, but given the hills and narrow roads near my house, I doubt I would ride one very often. I’ll confess I have one already—it’s sitting in the basement with flat tires and cobwebs and patina building up on the frame because I don’t ever ride it. But still, the idea of a new bike is appealing.
I am not all that steady on something with two wheels. My parents never saw my learning to ride as a priority, so at the age of six I taught myself on the neighbor’s little red bicycle. I practiced on the thing for hours in the front yard, starting at the sidewalk and ending with a crash into the hedges, then back to the sidewalk to start over. Eventually I got the hang of riding a two-wheel bike, but I wasn’t given one of my own until I was in middle school. By then it seemed too late to develop a confident knack for balance and steering and an understanding of those confounded gears.
A few years ago I was convinced I needed to learn to ride a motorcycle. My husband and some of my best friends had bikes, and the experience seemed so exciting and fun. If they could ride, so could I, I thought. Knowing my ineptitude on a pedal bike, I opted for a scooter as a training bike before launching into a full-fledged motorcycle. It wasn’t a little Vespa style, though. I bought a flaming red Honda Silverwing—480 pounds and 600 ccs of automatic machine. At first I took my bike out on the side streets of town at quiet times when traffic was light. I remember turning around one cool morning to see why I was being followed by a riding lawn mower only to discover it was my own engine I was hearing.
After several months of practicing on country roads and curvy hills, I was sure I was ready to join the Dover High School fall ride, a loosely organized run for anyone associated with the school—faculty, parents, and friends. We met up in the parking lot on a 40-degree day with wind gusts up to 20 miles an hour, perfect conditions for a novice I’d say. I pulled up in my black leather jacket on my shiny scooter and took my place in line among the Harleys and the Yamahas, the chaps and the boots. I felt conspicuous.
We rode for an hour or so and then stopped at a parking lot for a break. I parked with the others but didn’t back in like I should have and was self-conscious because of it. We got back on the road and traveled another hour or so, wind whipping against my helmet and ice building up on my fingertips, all the while thinking about how I would back my bike up to park at the next stop. We did stop, and I did find a spot in the parking lot, but I misjudged the level of the pavement. Moving at practically a walking speed, I turned my big, heavy bike only to lose my grasp of it, and as it started to tip, I panicked. In front of the seasoned bikers, I jumped off to let my scooter drop. The seat caught the edge of my heel, and I was thrown flat on my back. If I felt conspicuous before the ride, I certainly felt out of place lying prone on the asphalt with my scooter on its side and my bruised dignity hidden in my helmet.
Now that I have sold my scooter, I suppose I should leave the two-wheeled apparatus to my nimble daughter and stick to a four-wheeled vehicle for my transportation, something balanced by nature.
Sometimes the thought of having something is more appealing than the actual owning of it.