Monday, October 05, 2009

Ghost Rider

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my treatment of my little brother's bike. We grew up on a dead end street, and the last houses on the end didn't even have pavement in front of them. We lived just one house down, so we enjoyed all the benefits of suburban living, including asphalt. Every kid in our neighborhood owned their own bicycle. On warm spring days, it looked like some sort of pedal-driven roundup as kids of all ages raced up and down a street that was blessedly free of traffic.
And that's why we were able to make sport with my little brother's bike. We never would have done what we did if there were cars going back and forth. One of us would find some obscure excuse to coax him off his seat long enough for somebody to get it up near the end of the street. Whoever grabbed the bike would pedal furiously, then hop off as the bike headed toward the dirt turnaround. Without a rider. All by itself. We all laughed as my little brother fussed and fumed. Then it would invariably hit a rock or a curb and go flying in some awkward direction, sending us all into further gales of derisive laughter. With the lone exception of little brother, who fought back the tears.
We called it "Ghost Rider," and it was a regular event whenever there were more than three of us out riding our bikes. Afterward there were always a few minutes spent squaring the front wheel and handlebars, and a cursory inspection of any additional damage. After a while, he even got so relaxed about it that he was sending his own bike, riderless, careening toward certain destruction. It was the first sign of his lifelong philosophy of "Victory Through Apathy." Eventually we all graduated to ten-speeds. We rode bikes with seats high enough that we couldn't slip off so easily, without fenders. Including my little brother. That poor old Schwinn that tasted gravity so many times was finally retired, but we all remembered the spectacle. And the sacrifice of my little brother.

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