Bicycles: Times Past

1957.16 Colin & Irene

© irene waters 2018

Thank you for all the contributions to the last prompt The Biggest Change : the responses were insightful and thought provoking. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on all of them. This month’s prompt I am expecting to see differences between generations and geographical differences. I wonder if my expectations will prove correct or not. This time we are looking at bicycles. Were they a part of your childhood? Your adulthood? Where did you ride?

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

Baby Boomer Australia Rural then city

My immediate thought was that I didn’t ride a bike as a child so what do I find – the first photo was of me riding a tricycle with my brother standing pillion in Central park New York. I was too young to remember our time in the States but obviously I had my feet to the pedals at that time.

On our return to Australia neither of us had a bike. My brother agitated and eventually received one for his birthday probably around 13 or 14 years of age.

1966.11 Colin, new bike 2

© irene waters 2018

I was as jealous as one could be of his new found freedom and although I then begged for a bike none was forth coming. His bike gave him the ability to ride to his friend’s farm and to other friends in town that were too far to walk to. The only times I experienced this level of freedom was on the couple of occasions that my friend lent me her sister’s bike and we rode round the streets near her house. I believed that my parents didn’t think that riding a bike was a ladylike activity as in those days I rarely wore anything other than a dress. However, I think this is probably incorrect as I have seen pictures in recent years of my mother and sister riding their bikes to school.

It wasn’t until I was in my second year as a trainee nurse that I took up bike riding. My friend and I both bought a bike as a form of transport. The first lot of days off that we had together we decided to ride to Gosford around 8o kms there and another 80 back. Embarrassingly, dressed in the same outfit (Bay City Rollers striped sox were all the rage) we set off.

035 Glenda, Irene & Bikes

© irene waters 2018

The bikes were ladies bikes with back pedal brakes and no gears. The road to Gosford was mountainous. The first hill I rode down, quite close to the hospital, I picked up a good amount of speed and I found that standing on my brakes did not allow me to stop before I slid across the intersection. It put the fear of God into me and from that time I walked down the hills that were more than a gentle incline. Without gears and not using the momentum of the downhill run I found I then had to walk up most of the hills. We were exhausted by the time we got to Gosford and decided to cheat on the return by riding to Patonga, staying the night and then catching the mail boat back to the other side of the Hawkesbury River to Brooklyn. We woke that night in our tent with the river seeping in as we hadn’t realised just how high the tide would make the river rise.

That was the end of our bike riding days. The bike went with me to a flat at Manly where it sat in the hall and rusted. I don’t recall taking it with me when I moved out.

Recently I again hopped upon a bike and ended up purchasing one which I did manage to ride home. It has sit on our porch for the six weeks since I bought it unused apart from a friend who took it for a ride. Soon I am going to start. Very soon but they are memories that are yet to be made.

Baby Boomer – St Alabans, Queens, New York USA

Bicycles: Times Past | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

Baby Boomer – suburbs New York USA

I’m looking forward to reading  your memories……. and don’t forget that if you are interested in memoir check out the series on the second Friday of the month over at Carrot Ranch. Join in the conversation.

Baby Boomer – Tainan, Taiwan

Bicycles: Times Past

Baby Boomer – Rural UK

Two Wheels On My Wagon…

Gen X – city  South Africa

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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49 Responses to Bicycles: Times Past

  1. V.J. Knutson says:

    What a great trip down memory lane. I have no pictures from my past, but I remember very well the bicycle I received for my 9th birthday – with a banana seat and high rise handles. I was so pumped, until my dad wheeled a brand new bike out for my little sister too. Somehow, my birthday didn’t feel so special. (Maybe I was just a spoiled brat.) Still, I felt like the leader of the pack touring around in that bike.

    Liked by 3 people

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  3. Giggling about your bike trip to Gosford, both your experience in the failed ride and the twin outfits. You were pretty cute, the two of you.

    Parents can be very unfair – mine bought my younger siblings fancy bikes more than once while i got a trike handed down to them and then to cousins. Eventually they gave me a two-wheeler when I was 5. It was a smallish blue bike without fancy gears but I had fun on it.

    It took me forever to learn to balance on that bike, but I finally did so when I was 7, riding over the broken sidewalks of Trenton, New Jersey in the States. A few years later, I could ride without holding onto to the handlebars and frequently shopped at a nearby grocery store in Hawaii for my mom, riding back with bags in each arms, steering with my knees. It was a smallish blue bike without fancy gears but I had fun on it.

    I grew out of that bike and didn’t replace it till college when I got my first 10 speed. I rode it downtown Long Beach, California and left it against a lamp post for a few minutes. When I turned around, my bike was being ridden away by a child thief. Long Beach is a rough town in the part where I lived – I should have been more aware.

    Many years later as an adult with 2 teenage sons, I was riding a 10 speed when I was hit by a woman zipping her car out of a parking lot who ignored the stop sign and sped across the sidewalk, knocking me down and stopping – finally – only a few inches from crushing my head. She damaged my leg by tearing the ligament, which took 20 months to heal. It still aches occasionally. The cop found each of us equally guilty and so refused to ticket her. Yeah, bike rider against car driver doing something extremely dangerous.

    I’ve never been able to ride again. I shake so hard that I can’t keep the bike upright. But the cop was killed about 6 months later under very suspicious circumstances after being hit by a car driven by another cop. It’s not poetic justice – I’m very sorry he died so young. I don’t know if they ever resolved what really happened.

    My four grands love bike riding – the oldest riding his to middle school, the littlest still on a tricycle. Baby boomer here.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I can just see you balancing your packages and steering with your knees. That is some expert riding there. You had my heart in my mouth as the car came inches from crushing your head. You must have felt angry that she got away with not stopping at the stop sign but how strange about the policeman. It sounds like the shows Roger watches on the TV. Hope your injuries don’t give you too much grief. Bikes are something in common between generations. I wonder if it is the freedom they give you before any other transport is available. Where I live there is a huge bike culture with the correct lycra gear a must (I don’t have any). Many groups are in their 60s +. I don’t know if they are reliving their youth or trying to stay young.
      Thanks for joining in Sharon with such a rich story of your bike riding.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. NorCal Zen says:

    I love the first photo!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. colinmathers says:

    I clearly remember the day I got the 2-wheel bicycle, a present for birthday or Christmas. Dad wanted to show me how to ride it and got on it and rode straight into the persimmon tree, damaging the bike. That first bike was a back pedal brake bike. I also remember when I got my first geared bike with normal brakes (operated by hand levers). I rode down the driveway on it, back pedalling furiously and crashed into the garage door. The bike gave me the freedom to ride all over Casino, and to ride to friends’ places, also to construct jumps out of trestle tables from under the hall, and then do jumps on the bike.
    When I lived in Canberra, I used to ride to work quite a lot. From Garran it was a 15 km ride to Bruce, and I did it about 3 days a week. Quite exciting going to work. Up from the back of the house over Red Hill, then a long steep descent of Red Hill. I would get up to speeds of around 40 or 50 km/hour and there was a quite busy cross road at the base of the hill with a stop sign. Not wanting to lose momentum, I would study the traffic as I came down at high speed and try to find a gap in the traffic to fly through. Then coming back in the evening, there was a big hill climb that would take it out of me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL. Dad had a habit of doing that. I remember he demonstrated how to use the pogo stick that Grandma gave us for Christmas. Luckily it was yours he demonstrated on because it never went again. He broke the spring. He also demonstrated how not to overwind a fluffy bunny I had been given for Christmas and suceeded in doing just that – I never saw it jump. I guess you and I have both inherited his ability to turn simple things into disasters.
      I remember your freedom well but I don’t know that I ever knew about the accidents you had. I do remember when you had the foldup bilke and rode it in to Sydney Uni and some chap in a convertible near killed you and you retaliated. Can’t really remember the details you told me. I’m glad I didn’t know about your gap flying – I’d have worried like I do when I know you are going mountain climbing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Bicycles: Times Past – one letter UP ~ diary 2.0

  7. oneletterup says:

    The topic of bicycles is close to my heart. The memories are so tied to adventures and happy times. This is my contribution:

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Charli Mills says:

    I greatly preferred a horse over a bike, but I did have a 10-speed which was all the rage in the 1970s. You look so forlorn in the photo, staring after your brother on his new wheels. I love the Bay City Roller socks! No fun to tackle hills without gears and reliable brakes. This theme ties into to the last as I believe much has changed with bikes over the recent generations, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. robbiecheadle says:

    I have had a lot of bikes over my life, Irene. I had a very bad accident too. I will definitely join in this month. I enjoyed reading about your history with bikes and seeing your pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Oh I love this post Irene, I always so much enjoy reading about your life and looking at your adorable photos. Isn’t it something that you have no memory of having a bike as a child, yet the first photo you find is that one of little you and your brother in New York! So cute!!! And I had no idea you had lived in America as a child…fascinating! I can well imagine your jealousy when your brother got his own bike, that freedom…ahhhhh 😉 As for the river seeping into your tent…how awful. Now wonder you were put off biking. Although, very interesting to read that you are considering taking it up again. Same here, coincidentally…but I will save that for my post! I’m going to have a lot of fun with this. Great prompt my friend. I’ll be back…let’s pedal 🙂 ❤


    • Thanks Sherri. It just shows what your memory can do. I was probably too young to remember this and given that I didn’t have a bike as a child I just assumed that I never had one although my memory of the photo, which I had gone looking for, even though I had seen it recently, had me remembering my brother riding and me standing on the back. My father received a scholarship to do his masters in the States. My Mum was included and nor were we kids. She went on a quiz show and won our fares so that the family could go together. I don’t know if my father would have gone if we hadn’t been able to go with him (they couldn’t afford to pay for us themselves). Unfortunately I don’t really have any memory of this time and can only repeat stories others tell.
      I’m looking forward to hearing of your bike adventures. It sounds as though we may be pedalling in the future rather than walking. 🚲😀♥️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fascinating how photos trigger certain memories isn’t it? On the other hand, I have very strong memories of my bicycle from my childhood, but have never found a photo of me on my prized Raleigh. Oh what a fantastic story Irene. Your mother winning a quizz show so that you could all join your father, who was awarded a scholarship…wow! That is really quite something, I hope you have that in your memoir! Ha…yes, me too! But we can still walk too, when the mood takes us. I’ll be back at the end of the week. Have a great week, my friend 🙂 ❤ xxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Looking forward to your memories Sherri. It is a good story isn’t it. It isn’t in my current memoir but at some point I might write about my childhood and it will certainly be in there. Apparently when she was on TV, my grandparents were minding me and I had never had any experience of TV before that and when mum came on I ran around the back to get her out. None of this do I remember but they used to love embarrassing me with it at family functions. Hope your week has been good. Mine has been so far. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Irene, I did it! I actually got my post out and can’t believe it. Hope you enjoy it. Not on Friday, as I had hoped, due to our bathroom springing a leak from the toilet and I shall say no more about that. But I so much enjoyed this prompt and the memories it brought back, thank you! A crazy week last week, catching up after being away, but hopefully I can get more on track again. So glad to read your week was a good one, and I so hope for this too. Will check in with you! Oh that is such a great story, I can just see little you going to the back of the TV to find your mum!! And I can see why it’s a story of your family lore. I have plenty of those with my children. It must be a perverse things we like to do, embarrass our loved ones at family gatherings! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Sherri. A great post. Glad you made it. Yes it is all about embarrassment. LOL


  13. faithanncolburn says:

    Baby Boomer–Rural Nebraska, USA

    Grandma’s Hill
    My family lived on a farm at the foot of Grandma’s hill. My sister and I used to ride our bikes to Grandma’s. These were ordinary girl’s bikes with back-pedal brakes and no gears. We rode down our north lane to the gravel and looked a half-mile west, all of it hill—steep hill. Undaunted, we would start pedaling. Within a few yards, we stood on the pedals, pumping as hard as our legs would pump. I don’t remember ever riding all the way to the top.
    But, oh what rides we had going home!
    Years later, my oldest son was a little boy when he stood at the top of that hill with his bike. Grandma saw him before he hopped on, but not soon enough to stop him. He wiped out about halfway down. When she got to him, she asked what he was thinking.
    “Well,” he said, “I thought ‘am I a man or am I a mouse.’
    “I guess I’m a mouse,” he said, lip quivering.
    And yet, like Grandma said, he did it even when he was scared.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. faithanncolburn says:

    Your challenge reminded me of a couple more stories.

    My sister and I used to ride our bikes to Grandma Hazel’s house almost every day. When we got there, we were always hungry. (That was a really big hill.) We went immediately to the ‘fridge and built sandwiches—two slices of white bread, a slice of bologna, a slice of American cheese, some lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a few cucumber slices, mortared together with Miracle Whip sandwich spread. We tried a few other ingredients such as carrot slices and a bit of zucchinim, but the carrots fell out and the zucchini didn’t add any flavor to our concoctions.
    Grandma’s place, like ours, was a farmstead and a lot of sandburs grew there—the kind with the hard seed set off by a stiff spear, like a unicorn’s horn. Sis and I called them puncture vine because we often found them in our feet. We found them in our flat bike tires, too. We’d pull out the sandburs, but we had to walk our bikes home down that wonderful hill that gave us such thrilling rides when our tires were round.
    My Aunt Nina, who lived with Grandma, declared war on those sandburs. In about two years, she’d pulled and burned every sandbur on the place and we never got a flat tire at Grandma’s house. I wish we could have persuaded her to repeat the performance at our house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it when one memory will lead to others. Thanks for sharing them. I can’t say your sandwiches sound that appealing to me now but I can imagine as kids the bologna on white bread would have been scrumptious. I remember the food I used to eat at Grandma’s house and somehow it seemed better than what we got at home.
      I love your description of the sandburs. I can visualise them perfectly and see you with the punctures. Aunt Nina will be forever remembered.


      • faithanncolburn says:

        Well, who knew anything about healthy food in the 1950s. White bread was the standard. Dad thought he was in pig heaven when he had a day off to take us all to the lake and, from his hobo days, a ring of bologna and a loaf of bread was a feast when we went out camping. (Mom insisted on rather more varied fare.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • My reply came up so you have a second reply – I’m fascinated by your Dad and his hobo days. That is a term that we don’t here anymore. I think it might have originated in the depression but I could be wrong there. It would have been a feast then and too many today it would unfortunately still be a feast.


    • I don’t know where my reply disappeared to Faith. Although your sandwiches don’t sound that appealing to me now I think as a kid I would have fond memories of them also. I love it when one memory leads to more memories coming, particularly when they bring back pleasant memories. Aunt Nina sounds like a woman with purpose and your description of the sandburs vivid – it doesn’t sound as though it would have been a scratch free task but how wonderful for you no longer getting punctures and being able to ride that hill (that would be my worst nightmare I think I’ll leave the sandburs and have to walk it.) Thanks for coming back with more memories.


      • faithanncolburn says:

        My dad’s hobo days did indeed take place during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He did a gig with the Civilian Conservation Corps and then, the best I can piece it together he “rode the rails” around the west and lived off the land in the national parks up and down the Rocky Mountain chain at least part of the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • He would have had so many stories to tell but it sounds like he didn’t tell them. Such a shame.


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