ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

from A Squandered Life / Bicycles

Updated on February 26, 2016
vrdm profile image

Born without a clue. A lifetime later, situation largely unchanged. Nevertheless, one perseveres..... criss-crossing a powerful magnetic current, like kissing a narrow corridor of implausibility.

At some point I learned that I had a “god father”. A man called Philip Rosenthal had been a close friend of Henry and Mari-Ann's back in Switzerland. He was a tall loud confident swaggering man with a hearty laugh who would occasionally appear at our house and stay in the Grove Hotel. He used to go running every morning, was a mountain climber, and even had his own plane back in Germany. He apparently had a china factory which he had wrested back from the Nazis “after the war”. I was hugely impressed and glowed in his bombastic presence. He used to regard me as if he was admiring someone's dog, but rarely showed any sign of specific interest or attention.

While my siblings had god parents who used to send christmas and birthday presents, Philip never did. But presents would appear from time to time without any adherence to any routine or schedule, often without a clear sense of who the recipient actually was. The most impressive of these was a big red and white bicycle which appeared suddenly in our porch, before I had actually learned to ride a bike. I tore the corrugated cardboard wrapping off in a frenzy to regard, breathlessly, its shining stately beauty. The fact that it was much too large for me didn't dawn on me right away, even though I had to reach up to the handle bars to push it out into the driveway.

My relationship with that bike turned into a love hate one as I realised the scale of the problem. I could only mount it if somebody was holding it or it was leaning up against a wall. Nor could I get off it without crashing to the ground. A few impatient sessions with Henry didn't help and the bike became a cancer in my life as I was eaten away by guilt and by queries from all comers about why I hadn't learned to ride a bike yet - especially as I had that beautiful one standing out there on the verandah.

It fell to another friend from the Swiss era - Nino Bonzanigo, a truly sweet and gentle Italian man - to exert some influence. He was staying over for a few days so he took it upon himself to engage us both in the project. “Of course it is a much a too big,” he said (the only adult I'd ever heard reinforce this view), “but once you get a going, it won't a matter.” That man pushed me up and down the Lakeshore Road, sweating, red-faced, on the verge of collapse. He was no muscular athletic hero like Philip, but he wouldn't let me stop. “Don't a look down,” he puffed. “Don't a look at the front wheel. Look far down a the road, to where you want a to go.”

Finally I began to find that gyroscopic groove, that strange space where physics relents, where, when you reach a certain velocity and BELIEVE, the impossible becomes possible. I was astonished by my first forays into that space. It was like criss-crossing a powerful magnetic current, like kissing a narrow corridor of implausibility. In defiance of all my known logic, what shouldn't be happening was happening and I was almost weightless, free of earthly bonds.

Having once found that space, it was then easier and easier to return and Nino's comforting hand on my back receded into memory. I flew off down the road on a wave of exultation and exhilaration, only to be brought back to earth by the gradual realisation that I couldn't travel forever in a straight line. I had to look for wide spaces to make wide wobbly sweeping turns and/or soft spaces where I could bail out to make pedestrian turns accompanied with the dread of having to remount again without Nino's support.

But Nino had done his work. I had tasted that magical space; I knew it was there and that it was only a matter of getting up enough speed to find it again. I mastered launches from fences and tree stumps and large rocks and, with only mild bruising and road rash to show for the odd miscalculation, became a convert to the cause of two-wheeled transport.

In the days and weeks which followed I was forever haranguing my brother and Jeremy and other older friends to “go biking”. They were all already adept and were now very blasé about the sensations and the possibilities within which I was still deeply immersed. They couldn't help convulsing at my dismounting procedure which still required soft grass to soften the bail out, but they humoured me and off we would go.

I remember being struck most by the geographical range which opened up before us. With a few strokes of the pedal, I would cover the same distance as twenty minutes of foot plodding might get me. “Be back in an hour,” suddenly had a whole new set of parameters. My horizons shot away to places I might only have glimpsed from the back of a hurrying car. Long before I'd heard of Einstein, the days themselves seemed longer.

Having lived with that bicycle eating away at my conscience for weeks as it stood unused, I now couldn't get enough of it. Even as the enthusiasm of my more blasé biking buddies waned, mine increased and I found myself on solitary expeditions to nowhere in particular in eternal sunshine, carrying the miracle of the groove with me wherever I went.

Even now I get a buzz from those first few milliseconds as I get on a bike and find that groove. And now I watch my little girl on her pedal-less wooden “walk bike” as she gets up a bit of speed and finds herself miraculously kissing that groove of which she has had no forewarning. Her coasts become longer and longer and she begins to look for slopes to extend that providential sensation. She too has come a cropper on occasion, mostly when the slopes in question are steeper than anticipated and she gets a wobble on, but, tears and bruises notwithstanding, she clambers back on to try to find that blessed space again.

© 2012 Deacon Martin


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)