I opened the door to the storage shed, grabbed the handle bars, and started to wheel my unscathed red Schwinn bike backwards. The left training wheel caught on the edge of the door way. I kicked it with the toe of my white converse tennis shoes. “Stupid training wheels.” I readjusted the bike and backed it into the yard. I got on and started pedaling, my feet barely touching the pedals. Occasionally one of the training wheels would graze the ground.
I had permission to ride the bike up and down the dirt ally behind our house and no further. The turn around at the end of the alley was tight. On the right stood the wall of a storage shed and on the left a fence that surrounded a dog kennel. As I made the tight turn, the bike wobbled, training wheels touched down lightly. I pedaled home, took a sweeping turn in the bumpy yard and headed back down the alley. I enjoyed riding.
I know I asked my dad a number of times to remove the training wheels. The answer was repeatedly, “Not yet.” He didn’t think I was ready to ride my bike without them, but I knew I was. I couldn’t wait to have them off. I hated them. I didn’t want them. They looked stupid. I didn’t even like the name training wheels. It reminded me of toilet training, something I had mastered years ago and I wasn’t a baby anymore. I was ready to be a big kid, to ride a real bike.
Finally, my dad consented or I may have annoyed him enough to take them off, but the training wheels were off. I was happy, excited. I couldn’t wait to ride. I got on my bike, started to peddle. I was focused, mouth open, tongue hanging out. I started a wide loop of the yard. See, I could ride. I was a big boy. I fell, but I didn’t care. I got up, started off. The bike shimmied. I was riding with no training wheels.
I approached the end of the alley. Started my turn, got three quarters of the way around, the bike reached for the training wheel, it was not there. I fell hard.
For some reason, my bike did not want to make that tight turn and on the fourth or fifth time of the bike throwing me off I lashed out. I started kicking the bike tire as hard as it could with the soul of my white converse tennis. With each kick, I repeated, “Stupid bike!” The bike rattled in protest to the beating. I hated that bike. I picked it up. Pushed it for several feet and hopped on. Shakily I rode home and put it into the storage shed. I was done.
I stomped into the house. My dad must have seen the expression on my face. With a smile he asked, “You want me to put the training wheels back on?”
“NO,” I shouted. I plopped on the couch and turned on the tv. I don’t know how long I sat there, but it was not long. I got up, walked outside, got on my bike and tried again.