I've been reading a lot about bicycles lately.
I came to the subject after watching a documentary on youtube about bike messengers. These men and women ride through major cities all day long, carrying packages and documents to law offices, businesses and government entities. I'm not sure how many miles they cover in one day, but with 20 to 30 stops on average, stretched over anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, I'm sure they are putting the durability of their bikes to the test.
These aren't the “Tour de France” racing bikes you see on TV. These companies take all kinds. Mountain bikes, touring bikes, fixed speed and multi-speed bikes. Even large utility bikes with baskets or containers attached were shown whizzing between vehicles in traffic.
Then I wondered, where are all the bicycles around here? I remember as a kid growing up in Alice, my brothers and I used to ride our bikes along Chaparral, through Veteran's Park. Later on, when we moved to the Salazar Elementary area, we used to ride along the open hallways in the school and up and down Lillian, Stonegate and Cobblestone. For some reason, aside from rides through Salazar, I rarely crossed Texas Boulevard.
Bikes were the way to get around back then. I mean, you had friends, but you didn't go anywhere unless it was on a bike. I even remember getting my butt kicked at the Annual Band Football Game, where the sophomores who dared to show up were knocked down and beaten by the juniors and seniors.
I had the misfortune of not cutting my t-shirt at the neck, to make it easier when the upperclassmen would beat you down and tear off your shirt, as a trophy.
I was dragged on my back several yards because my shirt refused to tear. I earned those scratches and bruises that day. And I find myself going back to the time because waiting for me at the sidelines was my trusty bike and my backpack with an extra t-shirt. It was a long painful ride home but much shorter thanks to my bicycle.
It's been more than 20 years since I've gotten on the saddle of one. Last week, I went to a bike shop in Corpus Christi. Of course, I'm a lot bigger than I was back then, and so I asked the man up front, “Where are the BIG bikes?”
He led me to the cruisers, with the fat tires and wide seats. I still haven't made up my mind yet, but thinking back, I can still hear the sound of the wind as it passed my ears going down the road. I miss that sound, and if possible, I'd like to try and hear it again. So I'm thinking sometime between now and Christmas, you might just see me rolling down the road, a big guy on a not so big bike. Even if I'm sweating, or huffing and puffing, just know that deep down I'll be loving every minute of it.