Like many kids, I got my first two-wheeler for Christmas. Like many kids in New England, I experienced torment because I couldn’t use it until spring! Months, depending on how fierce the winter storms were, were endured, glancing lovingly at the clean three-speed. Dreams of adventures to come.

There was the occasional ride in the basement when Mom was having coffee over at Claire’s. Rusty taught me. Making S-curves around the support poles to practice agility. Laps made around the pool table, learning to regulate speed on the corners without crashing.

And then, it came. Snow and ice melted. Crocuses came and went. The daffodils were the announcers of bike season.

I rode a lot during high school. We’d ride to Teen Theater Workshop practices. A mini-gang of theater nerds. Susan, Curt and Dana would meet me at the top of Patriot Road. We would ride down Shawsheen Street. Denise and Debbie would meet us at the intersection of Sullivan’s Store and Foster Road.

We would pick up a kid or two on that couple-mile-long ride. We’d turn left onto Helvetia Street, hoping a car didn’t come over that narrow bridge while we crossed over, pedaling like bats out of hell. Our destination was the Town Hall; later, the high school. Sometimes we’d bike all the way up to Mr. Damaris’ house, just past the Snack Shack on Main Street, to paint scenery in his driveway. I’d bike over to Kathy’s on Pine Street. A lot, by myself.

We didn’t have locks for our vehicles of independence. I don’t remember seeing or using a bike rack. We just laid them down on whatever lawn was nearby.


The breeze while riding was perfection. I felt so fast. I was wild when I took both hands off the handlebars for a few seconds. Have you met me? A few seconds was more than enough for one screeching, “Woo-hoo!” before my hands flew back to control center. Forget standing on the seat. I dismissed that almost before the thought formed. The wiggledy-jiggledy was too much.

Not having to rely on Mom to take me places was magnificent. I didn’t have to ask to go out. I’d just toss, “I’m going over to Denise’s/Kathy’s/Dana’s/Susan’s” over my shoulder as I headed out the back door.

We rode until the colored leaves covered the roads and it was too cold to keep our hands on those handlebars. The crisp crunching of the leaves enhanced the ride. When it looked ridiculous to ride a bike with mittens, the bike went back to the basement.

Let the torment begin.

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