Learnin' to Ride a Bike

hand me downs...

Growing up in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s was a challenge for the whole family.  I learned quite quickly that being the youngest of four children meant I didn’t always get what I ask for.  I don’t mind telling you that a lot of things I claimed as mine back then were ‘hand me downs’ from my older brothers and sister.  I was twelve years old before my first birthday party and a friend had to give me that.  But that was alright, my dad said he never had one…

a boy on his bike
a boy on his bike

an allowance was unheard of...

I didn’t own a bike growing up, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t ride one. My sister had received a bike for Christmas one year, “and the boys can learn to ride on it” I remember hearing my mom say as she and dad talked one night when they both thought I was asleep. He was the only one working back then because they felt mom needed to be home when we kids got home from school. Oh, she had her ‘egg money’ she got from selling eggs laid by our chickens, but that wasn’t much and an allowance for us kids growing up in the ‘50’s was simply, un-heard of.  There was no TV and we kids generally played outside until dark and would have probably stayed longer if mom hadn't called us to come in and get ready for bed because ‘tomorrow was another day’ she would always say meaning we could just pick up where we left off today if we were doing anything that important anyway. 


Did you have a bike growing up?

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a red girls bike
a red girls bike

I had to learn on a girls bike...

Of course the bike was a girls’ bike which was bad enough, but it was also a 28 incher. It was my parent’s philosophy to ‘buy large and we kids would grow into it.’ Ever see an eight year old trying to handle a 28” bicycle? Besides being large it was also heavy. I don’t think aluminum had been invented yet, at least there was no such thing as a ‘light weight bike’ back then and even if there was, my sister’s bike certainly didn’t qualify. Also, there was no such thing as ‘training wheels.’ I remember my first ride done the hill in front of the house. My brother Jack, an experienced rider he had exclaimed to me, had explained everything I needed to know, he had reminded me to look ahead and not down at my feet and to keep my mind on what I was doing at first. Later I would learn to look around as I rode. I realized it was easier to keep my balance if I was moving so he gave me a little push and I was off, sort of wobbly at first as I tried to steady the front wheel and wondering if the coast was clear all the way down the small hill and what would I do if I was to meet a car. Luckily I was the only one on the street right then.

everyone crashes at first...

The one thing Jack hadn’t explained was how to stop the bike when I got to where I was going and no, I didn’t understand all there was about gravity at that age. My mom had heard my screams as I pass the front of the house and as the bike plunged headlong into our neighbor’s hedge which grew along the street side of her house.  Mom dropped everything and came a runnin’, praying and wiping her hands on her apron as she ran.  Jack was laughing as he reached in to pull me out of the stiff branches assuring mom all the while that I was alright, just a little scratched up and my feelings were probably hurt more than anything else.  Jack assured me that everyone crashes at first; that’s just part of learning to ride.  Needless to say after I stopped crying I was back on the bike and this time Jack told me about the brakes and how not to panic while riding.  Slowly but surely I can say I learned to ride a bike that day.

I remember being sore the next day, but that didn’t stop me from ridin’ that old bike, and by the way – I finally bought myself a bike of my own some years later, I was fifty-four years old…

© 2011 SamSonS

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Comments 32 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

There was nothing more thrilling than the first wobbly time you found yourself actually staying up and riding a bicycle! And yes, we all crashed that first time, but somehow, we all survived and did it again and again. It was one of the best days of our young lives.

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

I loved this hub, especially the happy ending when you FINALLY bought your own bike!

I was a middle, "forgotten" child whose father was a workaholic and was rarely around to teach us anything, but one of my fondest memories is of being 4 years old and teaching myself how to ride an older friend's brand new 2 wheeler (without training wheels). I kept going a few feet, then falling, then repeating the process again and again until I finally took off down the road and rounded the bend where my mother happened to see me whiz by and shouted for me to, "Get off that bike. You don't know how to ride!" "How silly," I thought, "Can't she see I'm riding it already?" Years later she told me she nearly had a heart attack watching me wobble round the bend.

I'm almost 60 now but I bought a Schwin bike a few years ago and still feel like a kid whenever I ride it (which is as often as possible).

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

*thanks WillStarr for being first to respond and yes I can certainly relate to those wobbly first attempts...

*and thank you Happyboomernurse for sharing your nice reminisce. Having children of my own (and now grand-children)I know just how your mom felt. We are all a little apprehensive to see our loved ones fall as they learn. Hey I've got one of those Schwinns hanging in the garage myself; don't ride it though...

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I would not have had a bike if my grandfather hadn't bought one for me and I had to share it with my sister. I crashed a couple of times but I must have ridden many miles on that bike as it was the only one I ever had. Your hub was very entertaining and brought back old memories. Rated awesome.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Pamela for your visit and for sharing your sweet reminisce with us. Also thanks for the nice ratings...

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

Wonderfully done. I grew up progressing from used bike to used bike and on occasion I assembled one from parts gathered far and wide.

I still ride a bike but this one has 100 horsepower. I live to ride even today.

Nice Hub.

The Frog

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Frog for your visit and for sharing about your early childhood. I sorta like those 'bigger' bikes myself and rode for a number of years - (would still like to have a Harley)...

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

you've always put a smile on face when I read your writing. Did I mention you have a wonderful and grand style to it/ Love this about bikes.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Rebecca, you are such a dear and it's always good to hear from you. Appreciate your kindness...

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I don't really remember first getting a bike but I think we all had them, Everything was second hand though.I guess we were relatively well off since dad had work in the depression if only part time.By the forties he was full time at a skilled trade.

I remember my oldest brother selling "good humor" bars from his bicycle.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks dahoglund for sharing your reminisce...

WallStickerDecals profile image

WallStickerDecals 5 years ago from US

I learned biking when I was 3 years old, and it was fun!

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks WallStickerDecals for commenting. How fortunate you learned early...

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Samsons1: Voted "UP" Getting my bike back in the 50's and learning how to ride it without any help from others opened up a whole new and bigger world for me as I was no longer confined to our backyard or our street. I was able to venture for miles and miles at a time so long as my chores were done, and I was home in time for dinner.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Dave for your comments. I remember much more freedom as your say once I began to ride..., remember the chain coming off or getting your britches leg caught in the chain...?

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

I must admit Now with kids, it really does bring back a lot of memories, so I had to show my family-- got big grins.. of course I've stumbled this and hope for more blessings in terms of traffic.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Rebecca. It's always good to hear from you. I appreciate the encouraging remarks and the 'stumble' along with the 'blessings in terms of traffic'...

drpastorcarlotta profile image

drpastorcarlotta 5 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

Your always bringing back memories! That indeed is a gift you have! Voted-Up!!

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thank you so much for your kind words and your ratings...

katrinasui profile image

katrinasui 5 years ago

Nice hub Samsons! keep it up.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

I always appreciate your favorable and encouraging words...

Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 5 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Sam, I love to listen to stories from a time before I was born. Things were so easy going then.

Good thing that 28 incher was a girls bike. That bar sure would have hurt if it was there when you crashed into the bushes. LOL


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Tina for taking the time to read my hub and to comment. After I wrote that story I told my sister and she just laughed remembering that old bike. Those were the days...

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Those were the days alright! My two brothers and I had those old heavy bikes when we first learned how to ride on gravel roads. We had many a scrape when falling but that did not deter us from getting back on and riding. I don't remember any training wheels. I do remember my mother and father running alongside trying to get us going until we could manage on our own. Fun hub! Thanks for the memories. Voted up and beautiful.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

Thanks Peggy for the ratings and for sharing your reminisce. I never heard of training wheels until I was much older. Like you said we learned with someone running along beside us coaching us on and when they thought we had it, they let go...

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

An enjoyable read and thanks for the video. I still don't know how to ride a bike even though I can confidently drive a car like the "Fast and the Furious". :)

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thank you Lady_E for your visit and your gracious comments. It's always good to see you...

Ryan-Palmsy profile image

Ryan-Palmsy 5 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

Brilliant hub! It took me a long time to learn how to ride a bike, I was 13 I do believe, but it's all been worth it!

I learnt on a rusty old...Purple bike. The back brakes didn't work, and it was so heavy!

Voted up!

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks so much young man for sharing your reminisce, your kind words and also your affirmation...

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

Hey Samsons,

Great hub. Think we all remember that first time. Mine was funnily enough on a friends bike that didn't have the training wheels. Suddenly I was away and felt like I was flying. Then my dad wanted to go home, but there was NO WAY I was stopping ... what if I couldn't get back on!? lol. Eventually I got tired and crashed, but was still smiling.

Love the video too, sure it had a few shocked viewers, but made me laugh.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

All my brothers got a bike but I never did, I don't know why. A girlfriend let me ride hers but it was so big I couldn't sit on the seat and it made my back raw with the seat rubbing with every peddle, lol. I have one now but it has a flat tire. You would think by now they would have tires that don't go flat....maybe they do? Oh well, it is too hot anyway but by fall I plan to get going on it with my camera.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 5 years ago from Tennessee Author

* Hey Brett, thanks for stopping by and sharing your reminisce. As kids we could always get up and go on. Thanks for the kind remarks...

*and thank you Jackie for your share. It's good to look back, I find I do it quite often. My bike has two flats,lol- I wish you happy times and many pictures this fall when you start riding again.


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