My First Bike Ride

Biking with my brother over the Fourth reminded me that our first bike rides ever were taken together. The last time I visited my parents, I dug up some photographic evidence.

These Schwinns were our first bikes ever. We got them for our birthdays (both in April — yes, this is what April looks like in northern Minnesota) in 1985. Charlie was turning 4, and I was turning 5. Training wheels were the way to go back then…

Here I am frowning at the handlebars (this bike stuff was serious business) while Mom adjusts Charlie’s bike and Uncle Bob looks on.

Getting to know you...

Getting to know you...

Meanwhile, Charlie barely fits on his bike! Moments after Mom let go of the handlebars, he was off…and crashed in the woods since he didn’t know how to brake yet. Oops. I think we may have this on video somewhere.

My brother and his first bike.

My brother and his first bike.

How old were you when you took your first ride?

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21 thoughts on “My First Bike Ride

  1. Sooncheol says:

    heck i was 38 years old when i learned to ride a bike lol. crash after crash on my yard finally i took off.. yeah !! it was one of the most important skils i achieved in my life and i’m a month away from 41. and i rode 970 miles so far this year and i’m completely hooked. just rode 70 miles at Tour de Paris in Paris,Tx. As a naturalized citizen learing to ride a bike comes only second to speaking English when its comes to most valuable skills. it wasn’t easy to learn but it was well worth the effort.

  2. Ghost Rider says:

    Wow, I was finishing my sophomore year of high school while you were learning how to ride a bike…suddenly I feel very old.

    I was 6 (1975…Ft. Eustis, Virginia…on a Sears “Spyder” that was purple with a glittery purple vinyl banana seat) when I finally got the training wheels off and learned to fly on my own. I’ve been obsessed ever since.

    Not sure if any photos exist from that momentous occasion, so I’m glad to see yours!!!

  3. I the only memories I have with bikes is wrecking them. I still wonder what I’m doing on two wheels.

  4. anna says:

    Great that you have pictures of your first bike ride. I can’t remember if some of mine exist, but I already have to plan to dig up old pictures when I visit home the next time :-).
    My first bike I got at the age of 3 and actually I started cycling in our old flat.

  5. Oh cute! I love the quality of early 80s photos; they somehow make events seem more special. Minnesota April seems perfectly normal after having lived in Northern New Hampshire!

  6. dottie says:

    You two are so adorable and your mom looks sweet as always. I remember I had a small red classic tricycle when I was 4. Since I’m the youngest, I’m sure it was around before then. For Christmas in kindergarten, Steph and I both got big plastic orange, yellow and pink tricycles. They were almost like recumbents. Our first real bikes were pretty big but with training wheels, Christmas of ’87, which makes us 6 and 7. Then the classic 12 speeds came for Christmas in 5th grade and those took us all the way through high school. Okay, this is getting long so I think I’ll save all the details for another post :)

  7. Kyong says:

    i do love old photographs – they have this softness & warmth to them. again, you & your brother are adorable! i was 6 or 7 when i rode my first bike. my dad assembled it in the garage – it was a xmas present. and i rode it head-on into the garage door!

  8. Tinker says:

    I learned at age 11, on battered 2nd/3rd/4th hand Monark, faded blue, that I had built up from parts. It had a 2 speed bendix rear axle and coaster brakes, weighed a ton, but was rthe perfect bike for our part of the country. We lived in deep south Texas home of caliche roads, goat heads, thorns, deep sand and no sidewalks. If you didn’t have fat tires, you sank, into the road surface. When I was 12, a kid got a Peugeot, (new!) and we were horribly embarrassed for him (not that it stopped us from riding to Bentsen State Park, that week). The boy on the french bike, sank in the sand the whole way, and eventually turned back, frustrated with the road surfaces we “chose”. (In the area, were two sorts of roads, paved, ie straight as an arrow, spaced at two mile intervals, and unpaved, caliche based, sand covered with palm trees down the center, and drainage ditches along the sides. if it rained, caliche would soften, forming ruts big enough to swallow a school bus tire. Frequently we would not get to school, as our driver was capable of boreing into the road with the slightest morning dew, sliding into the ditch or the palm trees, with truly awesome facility.

    So the Peugeot didn’t have a chance. When we got back, we put him togther a true “road” bike of the countryside, 2.35″x26″ tires in place of the silly 1.25″x 27″, big lugged tires, not paper thin skinwalls, and completely fenderfree (as was only right and proper, where you could clog up the completely clear openings, with the slightest rain, which happened all winter it seemed. When the tires would get worn down, to about 50% tread, you began to get flats, and it was frustrating to keep patching tubes, when you knew what was needed was a new tire.

    We had fun, all the same, with our bicycletas del campo.

  9. susancyclist says:

    Age 4. I’m not gonna tell what year that was. Let’s just say it was Christmas Day of a year with a 5 in it.

  10. Cute kid. Even then, you were a curious one. You seem to be studying the handle bars or wheel.

    This blog got me thinking about to training wheel it or not. I learned by using training wheels, but my neighbor friends dad made him learn without. He had that balance after a few days with his dad being very hands on, while it took me longer to get comfortable without the training wheels.

    • Trisha says:

      I’ve been thinking about that too for some reason — these days I hear a lot about balance bikes being the way to go to get kids comfortable on two wheels. Sara, if you’re reading, how’s your little guy doing with his?

  11. Dean Peddle says:

    I don’t have any recolition of bikes till I was about 10 with a BMX but my mom tells me of a funny story when I was 2 yrs old. I had one of those Fisher Price cars that you sit on and push with your feet. Apparently in Montreal Canada I started following my Dad to work one day then rode to the Fire Department. My mother looking frantically for me (you didn’t watch kids too closely in those days) found me playing with the firemen on the fire truck at the station. Apparently it was 4 miles away crossing busy streets and no one to this days understands how I was able to ride over there at age 2 all alone. I guess that’s why I still like LONG commutes :)

  12. Charlie says:

    No way I crashed into the woods. I’m pretty sure I pulled a wheelie and jumped off a sweet ramp. At least that’s how I remember it.

    • Trisha says:

      Hey, not caring if you have brakes or not is totally badass. All of today’s cool fixie riders are just following in your footsteps. No need to change history!

  13. Pete says:

    I was 5. The bike was a little red Schwinn, I still remember the smell of the solid wheels being heated in our oven by my father. I wasn’t supposed to be the one learning to ride, my brother was 6 and my father was teaching him.

    But my brother didn’t like looking foolish. He didn’t want to fall down. He didn’t like riding a bike as small and dorky as the little red Schwinn. He didn’t put much effort into it, and he wasn’t successful in his attempt.

    So the bike was there, abandoned in frustration. I was there, and five and curious. And I didn’t care if I fell, and I had no one to watch and add pressure and confuse. Auto-Didactic is a word I learned later, and as I look back I can apply it to so much of my life. Self mastery is a very rich feeling, and that bike gave me my first taste of it. The sense of freedom I got from teaching myself to ride was liberating, satisfying and ripe with glee. 36 years later I find the same delight when I ride my bike

  14. Karen says:

    My first bike was a purple Schwinn that my parents gave me when I was about 7. It was a classic girls step through with traditional handlebars much like those on the bikes I pedal now. My parents taught me to ride on the street in front of our house and every week the training wheels were raised just a bit more. We lived in a new development, Westover Hills, in Blacksburg Va, and soon I was riding with the other kids through empty lots, flying over mounds of dirt and through and footpaths created in between construction materials and equipment. My little bike gave me my first real sense of freedom and independence. I knew I was growing up. I was a small child and rode that bike for many years. My next was a purple Schwinn road bike with drop handle bars. I don’t remember the model but it was very nice and I felt like a rock star on it. Unfortunately, the Greenville SC suburbs of the 70’s did not have many places to ride to so I only tooled around the neighborhood, venturing as far as the pool during the summer but not further. This was all before anyone ever talked about bike friendly communities and although I fantasized about traveling further my parents would have never allowed it – and there was no place to go anyway. My how times have changed.

  15. EdL says:

    An orange Schwinn (or Schwinn knock-off, I can’t remember) with the banana seat and the three-speed shifter/nut-cruncher on the top bar. I was seven and liberated the bike from a barn on my grandparents farm. It had been one of my cousins that he had outgrown. I spent an afternoon figuring out how to ride it on the farm’s gravel roads. When I burst into the house to tell the adults that I had figured out how to ride the bike all the way ’round the driveway, my mother thought I had gotten into a fight because I was so filthy and scraped up. I got chastised by my parents for not asking first before trying to ride the bike, but I think Grandma approved of my initiative — she gave me a cookie and told me I could keep the bike. I was pretty much glued to that machine until I got my first “real” bike several years later. We lived on a small farm in rural Montana and there were miles of dirt and gravel roads, game trails, and horse paths that I took with ease. I never, ever remember getting a flat tire or having any mechanical problems, either, although that really can’t be true given how much use (and abuse) that bike got. That first real ride around the gravel lane was indescribably fantastic. Here I am, more than 30 years later, still chasing and constantly rediscovering that feeling.

  16. Ashley says:

    This is great, Trish! I love these posts. I remember my first bike, but I don’t remember what it was. I just know it was red:)

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