The wheels of the bike go round and round
July 14, 2011 6 Comments
My father and I have bonding moments every morning, where we sit down in a makeshift table and stools — which he made — and sip hot coffee, while talking about anything and everything. This morning, after a very nostalgic conversation about the old days, we came up with an object that we both remember clearly — my very first bike, a custom BMX ‘chopper’, and how I ‘tamed’ it. If memory serves me right, I think I got the bike when I was only seven… but my mother insisted that I was six when I got it. Either of us had proof, so we just decided that when I got it was not really important.
My father assembled the bike — which he fondly christened ‘Your own car’ — from small parts and pieces of other ‘dismembered’ bicycles. At a tender age, I was convinced my father had some magical ability. He could fashion a rubber band-firing ‘gun’ from pieces of bamboo slats, or a ‘speed buggy’ from empty tin cans and discarded rubber slippers. With the frankenbike he’s attempting though, I was somewhat skeptical. I didn’t think he could make such an awesome ‘chopper’. Hovering at his workshop, I saw his creation slowly taking form. He added the seat and the pedals last so that he could ‘calibrate’ it to a proper distance to allow me to power the bike comfortably.
My father recalled that the frame he used for the project was the smallest he could find; but to me, I remember how gigantic it was. I was so afraid of it and there was no way that I was going to control that monster ride. My father smiled a sad smile when he recounted how the bicycle remained hung at our backyard for about month because I refused to ride it. Honestly, I told him now, I was just so scared to try it.
Months after the project bike was completed, my father gave me a lecture about becoming a man and what it means to be one. I was barely in school at that time, and by Jesus! I would have to be a savant to ever recall the exact content of that pep talk. Well, my father couldn’t remember what it was he said either. All I know is that after that mano y mano chit-chat, I was finally determined to try and ‘tame’ the monster. So we went to the town plaza to test drive the ‘chopper’. Recalling this moment, I see a glint of pride in my father’s eyes as he enthusiastically recounted the events of that day.
The plaza was almost empty, except for some couples lazily lounging in the benches and taking in what remained of the late afternoon sun. We found for ourselves a wide and open space located at the far corner of the town plaza. It was actually a tennis court — perfect! By now, my father was already pumped up, excitedly narrating how he taught me to ride that monster that day.
Propping me up comfortably on the seat while securely planting my feet on the pedals, my father slowly eased himself toward the rear of the bike. With a firm grip at the bike seat, he balanced me and the bicycle as he gently coaxed me to pedal. Sensing my reluctance, he whispered (this time more forcefully) that I stop worrying about falling because he will be there to catch me. He egged me to start pedaling, to focus on the pavement ahead and not look back. “Just do as I say and trust me.” It was almost a shout.
Throwing caution in the wind, I started to pedal like crazy, propelling the tiny bicycle forward. Once it started moving, I felt pedaling was much easier than expected. With my gaze fixed forward, I asked my father if it would be as easy to ride the bike without him holding on it. Silence. I told him we could stop if he was tired. Again, he did not reply. I slightly turned to see if he was feeling okay. I saw him, except he wasn’t where I expected him to be. He was about twenty feet away from where I was! Then I lost control and fell.
He ran over and said he forgot that he wasn’t supposed to let me ride the monster by myself. After I was done crying, he told me there was nothing more he could teach me. He said that if I could ride it the way I rode it for that far, I will have no problems riding it even farther.
I practiced for a few more hours until I ‘mastered’ the dynamics of bike riding. My father told me I was the fastest learner that he had even seen. I told him that he was the best teacher that I’d even met. We went home hand in hand as if we were best buds.
Well, we still are.