I’m poised at the very top of the hill, completely terrified and exhilarated all at once. A wide expanse of brand new concrete lies before me and I look over at my cousin, whose grin matches my own. In our young lives there aren’t many acts of defiance or moments that terrify but this will encompass both.
In the 60’s bicycle helmets are nonexistent. Our parents have no idea where we are and we’ve probably been gone most of the day. We’ve practiced riding our bikes with no hands on flat ground but today we’ve decided we will conquer this hill.
And it isn’t just any hill. It’s steep, long, and has a sharp turn at the end. Our mission is to make it all the way down and around the turn without touching the handlebars.
We’re up and riding. Wind rushes past our bodies as we gain speed, our ponytails horizontal behind us. Terror starts to invade the pit of our stomachs until we realize we have this. We’re both upright and confident, the noise of our bike tires humming in our ears, our laughter punctuating the summer day.
The turn is upon us and our bikes are one with our bodies. The concrete flattens out and our sense of accomplishment is immense as we coast to a stop.
Suddenly we can’t even conceive of a day or time when we couldn’t do this.
This particular bike could possibly be a reproduction but the memories it evoked in me were certainly real.
I’ve never really understood all the speeds on my current bike anyway.
That kind of riding was a lot more fun.