For many of us one of our most vivid childhood memories is that glorious day when we got our very first bicycle. Getting a shiny new bike at age 8 or 9 was a big deal and a big responsibility. Graduating to a bike was sort of a rite of passage from being a little kid to becoming a big kid. But for some of us learning to ride that bicycle would prove to be an adventure as the numerous scratches, bumps and bruises we suffered would attest.. But as they say once you learn how to ride a bicycle you never forget.
It was such a long time ago that I simply cannot recall the exact model of Columbia bicycle that I received on Christmas morning back in 1960. I was 9 years old and my parents must have sacrificed mightily to buy me that bike. Suffice to say that compared to the bicycles on the market today it was quite primitive indeed. This bike was fire engine red and featured the old fashioned touring handlebars that were still quite popular at that time. This was a single speed bike that featured what are called back-pedal brakes. This is a type of braking system that is simply operated by pedalling backward. Nice and simple and great for children who are learning to ride a bike. I wonder if this type of brake is even available anymore? Anyway, in the 1960's kids in my neighborhood spruced up their bikes with accessories like bells, headlights and multi-colored streamers that were inserted into the hole that is in most bicycle grips. And it was not uncommon for kids to somehow attach baseball cards to the spokes with clothes pins to make their bike sound like a motorcycle. We thought we were so cool!
I rode that Columbia bicycle for the next seven or eight years. I took very good care of it and somehow managed to avoid having it stolen. After I started driving I kind of got away from bicycles for more than a decade. But on March 5th, 1981 (I am reading from my receipt believe it or not) I went to a local bike shop and purchased my very first adult bicycle. I bought a beautiful gold Univega 10 speed bike. I paid around $200.00 for it. Since I had never ridden a bike with a shift or hand brakes before I had to rely on the neighborhood kids to show me how it all worked. At my request I had my new bike outfitted with touring style handlebars as I found the drop style bars to be very uncomfortable for me. To make a long story short I have been riding that bike ever since. Although I don't ride nearly as much as I would like I am still enjoying my Univega 10 speed nearly three decades after I purchased it!
Each spring my wife and I pledge that we are going to ride our bikes more often. Hopefully, this year we will make that happen. Taking a leisurely ride down a country road or along the shore on a bike path is very relaxing, great exercise and just plain fun! What makes bicycles so great is that they are versatile and relatively inexpensive. Depending on the person they can be used for transportation, recreation or sport. These days there are more than one billion bicycles in use around the world. WIthout a doubt, the bicycle is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. Very highly recommended!
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A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a pedal-driven, human-powered, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist or a bicyclist.
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century by Ashton Macdonald In Kelowna British Columbia , Canada and now number about one billion worldwide, twice as many as automobiles. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for such uses as children's toys, adult fitness, military and police applications, courier services and bicycle racing.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright bicycle has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. However, many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for particular types of cycling.
The invention of the bicycle has had an enormous impact on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were originally invented for the bicycle – e.g., ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, spoke-tensioned wheels, etc.