Danny Rosin who has been a great mentor to Triangle Spokes Group and true leader / innovator in the Triangle Non-Profit scene with the founding of Band Together was kind enough to share his bike experience of how his blue Schwin bike gave him the taste of freedom! Enjoy this great read and thank you to Danny for sharing.
“My nephew, Kellan, is getting a bike for Christmas this year. I am pretty sure that he asked “The Mall Santa” for the bike and if he is good, he will get his reward. (If you get this story before the holiday, please do not let the cat out of the proverbial bag.)
Hearing about his pending gift has jolted my memory, reminding me of a distant experience that involved my first bicycle. Before training wheels, there was really nothing to get me around in the ways that I wanted to as a kid. I had my Krazy-Kar, which spun around in “krazy” circles in the same ole place. The spiral design, that covered its plastic wheels, went round and round as I pedaled fervently, making me dizzy and tiring me out. I think the Krazy-Kar manufacturers designed it to preoccupy children so that parents could have a break.
I can’t recall having a tricycle but did finally graduate from Krazy–Kar to a bike with training wheels. In all of its glory, the banana seat, a brilliant blue with metallic silver sparkles, the deep “U” shaped handlebars with royal streamers coming off each end, the blue flag that extended behind me, and the Mickey Mouse bell, all made my Schwinn mine. These Schwinns became staples for kids like me. Owning a Schwinn was a kid right of passage. My younger brother, Jon, had a yellow one. Together, we grew older, but not wiser with these bikes beneath our tushes, as we took turns acting out Fonzie and Cha-Chi roles from the Happy Days sitcom. Looking back, the experience of owning a bike that offered new found freedom was a small step in the process of becoming a man. Today these funkadelic bikes are collector’s items, auctioned on eBay for big bucks. I wonder where my Old Blue Schwinn is now…
Finally, that day came when the training wheels came off my Schwinn. As my Dad took the wheels off that had supported me during that “training period,” I was both excited and scared. I was unsure of my ability to ride solo. I was to be the first of the Rosin children to take on the challenge. My younger brother and sister looked on, as I truly became a “big brother” to them. I could read their tiny minds, “Wow. Danny is cool. I only wish I was old enough/big enough/tough enough to ride without training wheels!” I was gaining some sibling respect. Riding a bike without training wheels was, at the time, atop the list of importance for the kids in my family. Being the eldest, I always has the privilege to try just about everything first…adult things like staying awake until 8:30 to see “Ba-Ba Black Sheep” while my younger siblings had to go to sleep. I did not deserve these things; I only received them because of my age. It was good to be the King.
My royal blue Schwinn, sans training wheels, was taller than I had remembered it when it had training wheels, even though it was the same bike. My crotch was painfully smashed against the top “man” bar and as my toes, outstretched as far as possible in my Keds, barely touched the ground. My Dad held the bike up as I tried to position myself comfortably. He acted as my training wheels for a period of unsuccessful biking attempts. And finally, after a lot of patience and ego bruising, I took off on the open neighborhood street, by myself, WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS!
As a smaller kid, I had learned to seize the bull by the horns. I opted not to just ride up and down the driveway or even around the circle that fronted our home. I took off beyond my parent’s comfort zone. Never had I escaped the close proximity of our home without the hand of an adult or within immediate walking distance. If they made electronic “zap” collars with invisible fences for kids, I am sure that my parents would have had me wear one. On a nice lot with a beautiful magnolia (climbing) tree that backed up to The Elizabeth River, our house at 4309 Duke Dr., should have been enough for any kid. I spent a lot of time in the mud puddles collecting tadpoles. We captured lightening bugs all around the house, and to the North, I was allowed to only go so far as the end of our short pier to drag up the always empty crab pots. Never once do I remember jumping in Elizabeth’s river. I had always wanted to explore what was beyond our property.
I really never went far until my Dad let go of my bike, and symbolically, whether he realized it at the time, he was, in a sense, letting go of his parental reigns on me.
I pedaled fast for fear of falling. I was so busy looking at the back tire’s lack of training wheels that I almost wrecked many times. It seemed as if I rode 20 miles that afternoon. In reality, I had only ridden around our small neighborhood, but it was beyond anywhere near I had been alone. It was about four blocks away from our house, which seemed like 5 miles, that I rode my Schwinn up onto a neighbor’s lawn. I was eyeballing a nice, hilly area that swooped down by a canal and then back onto the main road. The stuntman/daredevil/wannabe inside me yearned to take this hill on. I had been riding for 30 minutes or so, without incident, and felt on top of my newly found independent world. As I took on the steep hilly challenge, I rolled quickly down the slope and towards the canal, gaining speed and an adrenalin rush I had never felt before. I was out of control, reckless, like on the ski slopes and mountain bike trails of my world today.
What happened next has never been repeated due to what was, then, my first real slice of humble pie…I lost my footing and I fell off of my bike and tumbled down the hill. In pain, I picked up my Kenievel bones up and retrieved my bike which was just above my head on the hill. I hobbled down to the base area near the road, hoping that no one had seen my fall. Finding the flat surface on the street, I attempted to get back on my bike and ride it homeward bound. I was unsuccessful in every way imaginable. I was too short. I prayed no one had been watching my lame attempts to simply get on a bicycle. I was determined to get on the bike by myself and ride home with pride. Nearby was a small neighborhood power hut. For over 30 frustratingly sweaty minutes, I tried every way I could, by using the side of the hut for privacy and to give me the leverage needed to help get me on my bike. To no avail. It was getting dark. Assuredly the parents were worried. I had to throw in the towel. I walked my bicycle home, head hanging low, ego bruised, again.
Upon arrival, I was welcomed home, unconditionally. No one ever asked why I had scrapes and bruises and I never told. And that next day, I was back, canvassing and exploring the neighborhood and beyond on that blue banana seat Schwinn. I took on that hill that beat me that first day as often as I could, sometimes conquering it, and on other attempts, busting my ass. I found a cinder block in the shallow area of the canal that I was able to use to help me get up those times I fell down that fateful hill. The block was a saving grace and served as a “stepping stone” until I grew tall enough to get on the bike on my own.”
It was with my bike that I found a true taste of freedom.