I was five, and it was in the late summer, right before I started Kindergarten. The parsonage for a neighborhood Baptist church was right down our street, and the family living there at that time had a daughter close to my age. Her name was Sarah, and she was a genuinely nice girl, who happened to have a small bicycle without training wheels. She was very patient with me that summer in letting me practice on her bike! My best friend across the street had a bike, also, but, hers was a little larger than Sarah's, so I preferred (felt less intimidated) learning on the smaller one. One sunny morning, everything just "clicked", and I rode all the way up the street on Sarah's bike! I remember blowing a fake boat horn as I had seen someone do for real on TV. It was such a free, glorious feeling! That following Christmas, my parents got me my own bike, a red one, which the neighborhood bad girl eventually stole. Then they got me a purple one with a banana seat. There is a problematic story attached to that one, also: I overheard my dad chastised my mom for spending the money on it, and it made me uneasy. Going forward, my youngest brother "borrowed" a bike of mine when we were young adults, and he messed it up beyond repair. And, when I turned forty, my parents gave me this awesome mountain bike for my birthday. A neighborhood guy known to be a problem broke in my garage and stole it before I ever had a chance to ride it.
One day, I will own a bike that doesn't get disapproved, broken, or stolen. I love riding a bike, and the memory of finally balancing on Sarah's overrides all the negativity.
My own kid learned how just as his Kindergarten year was coming to a close. We lived in a quiet residential neighborhood, on a corner lot with a side street which saw hardly any traffic. We practiced all spring, and he was so happy when he finally got it. He lived on that bike for many a summer, and eventually, a bigger one.
My favorite bike story takes place when I was in eighth grade. A boy in my class had problems. He was clueless and obnoxious, and nobody liked him, but many of us, me included, always tried to include him and be nice to him. He had been infantalized by his parents, and that year, our very good-looking young gym teacher found out that Davie couldn't ride a bicycle. So, Mr. Jones brought in a used bike, and spent his free periods outside in the school parking lot teaching Davie. We could see it through the window of my English class, and a lot of the kids thought it was hilarious. I thought it was great! Mr. Jones was very encouraging of all of us, (he took note of my running speed and put me on his track team; I had never been encouraged in endeavors that weren't academic before), and the fact that he cared enough about this kid nobody liked...it's still one of the best examples of human kindness I have ever seen, let alone, how a teacher should be. I have to say, we opened the window and cheered the day Davie got it, even the mean kids.