Fort Collins, 1950
I had just learned to ride my sister’s bike in Coleridge, taking off down the hill in front of my house, and then riding all over the little town. Then we moved back to Fort Collins. I was 9 and I needed transportation.
My maternal grandfather, Albert Lane Sr. had a bike he wasn’t using any more. He was born in 1878, so he was 72 now, but that wasn’t the reason he no longer rode, the police department had provided him with a Cushman three wheeled scooter with a big box on front to take care of the city’s parking meters, so he didn’t use the bike anymore and was happy to let me use it
It as a tall old bike with thin tires and a cross bar on the handlebar. It was so tall for me that I had trouble mounting and dismounting without damaging the ‘family jewels.’
To get on I had to find a step or a curb to make me tall enough to get it going. Like ladies and gentlemen of old I needed a step up to my steed. Once on I needed space ahead of me to move away from my mounting aid. Then I could ride.
There was another problem to overcome though, it had only one pedal. I soon became adept at not only using the functioning pedal, put learning when I could push on the shaft of the non pedal. I wasn’t going to win any races, but I could get around town.
I remember one morning getting up before others to go see the Clyde Beatty circus set up on the east edge of town. I rode the bike down there and watched as the harnessed elephants were hitched to the chains and in concert raised the main circus tent. I was even allowed to help do something (I don’t remember what) and got a couple of free passes to use later in the day with my friend.
Oh yes, I forgot. I also had difficulty getting off the bike. Most times there was not a stoop or curb to dismount, so I fell off, until I discovered that if I just lean the bike as I stopped I could put my foot down and dismount.
(One more part of this story was about a disagreement I had with a deputy sheriff (Chuck Hagemeister) in 5th grade. He was visiting my class in which his mother taught, and talking about bike safety. I knew him from church where he was in charge of the acolytes and from Boy Scouts where he was the assistant leader, and as such he was one of my father substitutes.
Anyway, somehow the discussion turned to tire pressure. Wherein I said the tire pressure on my (grandfather’s) bike was 80 psi. He argued that that was impossible since car tires which were much bigger only took 32 psi! Later when I Worked for his wife in the school of ed I reminded him of this story. Funny, he didn’t remember it.)