Riding in unison, two souls pedaled as one. We vowed to be best friends for life. Over pavement and soil, we pedaled furiously, heading nowhere as fast as we could. Wind blew through our hair, t-shirts clung to our chests with shirt tails billowing in the breeze as we held on for dear life, careening down a grassy slope.
Nearly bald tires skidded back and forth in wet, unmown grass. Feet slid along the silky smoothness, maintaining balance while trying not to sideslip and fall. Jumping over rocks and fearlessly launching off of youth manufactured platforms, we tested our prowess and bravery.
No place was out of reach because we were mobile. From dawn to dusk, we rode from one locale to another. After arriving at our destination, we would throw one leg over the saddle while standing on the opposite pedal and land next to the bike. Carelessly, we laid our bikes on an out of the way spot to engage in other activities.
Long summer days of baseball were spent with both teams’ bikes lying in a herd like a field full of cows, pedals tucked into the ground, front wheels tilted toward earth.
Scorched metal frames, too-long baked in searing sun, were hot to the touch when we called time out to go to the local convenience store to buy cold sodas. We took off our shoes to relieve our parched toes in the cool grass. Tying the laces together, we slung the shoes over one shoulder as we gripped the handlebars, swung onto the saddle and stood up on the pedals to gain momentum in the wide open pasture. Pulling up on the handlebars with weight thrown back, we felt the tug of inertia in our arms.
Draping our shoes around our necks, laces digging into the top of our spines, shoes dangling down in front of us, we rode barefoot, curving our filthy feet around the pedals to keep a firm grip. Some days, our feet slid off of the pedals causing our toes to drag across the ground. The asphalt ripped open frail flesh leaving reddish patches speckled with tiny drops of blood.
We yelped in pain, gripping our feet in our hands to stop the throbbing of split skin. Limping in circles for a minute or two, we remounted, pedaling with the good foot only – the injured foot resting on one pedal for a ride.
Together, we landed at the local hangout. Kids and bikes intermingled along the front step. Leaning our bikes against the brick facade, we strode inside looking important in our pro team baseball caps.
Sodas held firmly in one hand, we rode back to the park, sipping and pedaling to combat the heat. Acrobatics allowed us to control our bikes with one hand. And one-handed braking was no joke: dragging heels were often all that lay between us and an obstacle. But that didn’t stop us from pedaling to our heart’s delight.
As the day grew short, the sun peeking through the treetops, we grabbed our bikes to head back home. Our shadows were cast long in the last lingering remnants of daylight. We rode side-by-side, head-to-head, laughing and flying along…. just me and my shadow.