The first bike is usually one where you discover the world at a speed faster than your legs can take you. You can now go further as well. Almost like becoming the Six Million Dollar Man.
Mine was a Murray 20" single-speed designed like a "British three-speed" as we folks in the U.S. dubbed them. I liked it great for the first year (I was 6) but the next year I wanted a BMX bike. All the cool kids had BMX bikes. So what happed? The next year, my Dad made my rather pedestrian bike into a BMX bike. He spread the stays in the back so it had room for a big knobby tire, repainted it black, made me a number plate. He bought motocross (motorcycle) handlebars and cut them down to fit me better. Dad put a lot of effort into transforming this perfectly good bike into something his son wanted.
Bu I was upset when he first showed it to me. I did appreciate what my Dad did (sort of) but it just wasn't the same. I wanted a new bike. This was not a new bike. This was not much like the other kids bikes with the springs on the front forks and such. But as time went on I began to love that bike. It had a bit steeper gearing than the other kids' bikes so I could get a better top-end speed. It also made it easier for me to do wheelies with. I rode that bike everywhere, jumped it over any ramp we could rig up, learned to ride wheelies down the block. I eventually delivered newspapers on it for a couple years.
We did a lot of tweaks and modifications to that bike. Dad thought it’d be cool to add a 3-speed crank thing to it. It was sort-of cool. Multiple speeds! Go faster! But I don’t think this device was ever designed to take the sort of abuse a boy who’s hero was Evel Knievel. It didn’t always shift right. I broke the right crank arm several times. My father had my uncle weld it together a couple of times but after the third time it was plain to see that we just needed to go back to the original crank. I also had a parade of banana seats, sissy bars, “motocross” seats and such.
When it was time to retire that bike I don’t think I really gave it much thought or appreciation. I had broken the crank once again (but some years later). By this time I had a “real” bike. It was a blazing yellow 10-speed. Hey, I was growing up, I needed a grown-up bike! I was also not far from driving, too. Who needs a bike when you have a totally awesome bone-stock rusty ’73 Nova hatchback? But looking back with all the benefits on hindsight on that bike that my Dad modified for me, that may be what lead me to my passion for being on two wheels.
Dad, I'm sorry I was ungrateful at first. I loved that bike.