Monday, 4 March 2013

Learning to Fly

Riding with the Kids

Yesterday’s sunny Sunday was not wasted. An important part of it was spent through me half chasing half teasing to be chased with my son as he attempted to ride his bicycle. In case the gravity of the situation needs clarification, I was trying to help him learn ride a bicycle fitted with training wheels.
Looking back, I never had a bicycle with training wheels; my parents couldn’t afford getting me a bike till I was in third grade, and even then it was a crappy used ugly orange one that was the model of non-flashiness. On Friday afternoons my father would take me to an empty dead end street (now not so empty) and would run after me, holding the back of the bike, as I attempted take off. Eventually I got there, but given my motor skills are as advanced as a dead bacteria’s my father ended up doing plenty of running.
He was fit, which is not so much the case with yours truly. Yet enjoy this activity I did, and for a very simple reason: by being able to compare my activities to those I have been associating with my father’s, I felt like a good parent for a change. There are two contributing factors here: first, with my father being the old style reclusive type that leaves everything child related to the mother, there weren’t that many opportunities for us to engage (in the twenty years I lived with my parents they never bothered to try and figure out what this friend of mine, the personal computer, was about). As for me, other than being a role model for my son when it comes to playing video games and letting him play on the iPad I hardly ever engage in proper parental activities; doing some old style running can at least give me the temporary illusion I’m a good parent. Chasing the bicycle is the substitute I am offering to the various forms of ball playing most fathers engage their sons with on a much more regular basis (probably because they like doing it themselves).

The momentum carried forward and we came up with the idea that a good way to spend the upcoming Easter break without going bankrupt is to ride our bikes together.
Problem is our bikes, the rest of them, haven’t been touched for more than six years. So we took them out in the afternoon, gave them a clean, and took them to a nearby bicycle shop that always gave us the impression of not being greedy but actually running a place for bike lovers.
My wife is keen on getting rid of her mountain bike in favor of an Amsterdam style upright riding model. With the shop’s advice we are looking to buy one of those and keep the old mountain bike in storage till they fit my son – at about five years time. They told us to keep them in storage just like we did thus far and bring the bicycle for a service when it’s time for it to see daylight again. The “sell on eBay” option is not as viable: we will receive ~$150 for a bike that costs $750 new and is, in many respects, new.
The funny thing was the shop’s reaction to my bicycle, which we brought over for a tune up. After all, the only mountain the bike saw during the past few years was made of spider webs.
I bought my bicycle shortly after arriving to Australia. I was king of the world at the time, so I spent money without thinking much and bought myself a hard core mountain bike. Don’t ask me in what way this bike is better than those costing less than half; that is not a question to ask euphoric people. The bike was meant to be the opening chapter before this new immigrant got himself a proper bike. You know, one that comes with a 600cc or more engine as opposed to this half dead donkey power motor.
A lot has happened since, including unemployment, low level work compared to my Israeli origins, and a family. On the way there some old dreams have been forgotten. The bicycle shop people we met yesterday couldn’t care less: one by one they came to have a look at my bicycle with looks of total admiration on their faces (did I see drool, too?). Each one pushed the suspension here and there, grabbed a feel, and uttered some “ooh” and “ahh” sounds of pleasure. I still have no idea what the fuss is all about, but it was funny to watch; I guess this would have been what I would look like if someone let me play today with an iPhone 10.
I’ll be getting my bike back next week, tunes. Given my son’s performance, I strongly suspect its duties would be limited to short stretches of flat beach bike paths for the foreseeable future.

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