Roots Canal…


Jersey Boys…

In 1968 my father, a successful business man, plucked our family from our suburban New Jersey home and planted us in Colorado. He did this largely I believe, so my brother and I would not grow up to be dock workers, cops on the take, or apartment superintendents with a 3 donut a day habit, cigarettes rolled up in our shirtsleeves, and America: Love It Or Leave It bumper stickers on our Chevy Impalas. This was the single best decision my father ever made for his family.

Friends Can Be Bought…

Shortly after we settled in Colorado my father bought my brother and I bicycles from a little shop in our community. My brother’s was a green upright Columbia 5-speed cruiser. Mine was a black & white Columbia 5-speed, with a tandem seat, and a throttle shifter. It was like a rocket ship built for and 8 year old. That bike would become my horse, my best friend and my only means of escape until I outgrew it in favor of my brother’s hand me down.

My ticket to freedom as a child...

My ticket to freedom as a child…

Waiting Out Winter…

It was the long months of a largely non-biking winter which made me appreciate my bike so much when spring arrived each year. Since my mother worked mostly evenings as a nurse and my father traveled extensively, winters meant reading, eating, and watching reruns after school – a life lived mostly indoors. Summer meant freedom from that. We lived in an area in which everything that mattered was bike riding distance from home.

I would ride my bike to school in spring and fall. I would ride to the store to do errands for my mother if she asked, and I would ride it to visit friends of course. I would also ride to the community pool nearly every day in summer. When my parents were fighting, which was often, I would ride for hours just for the sake of thinking, imaging or to feel the freedom which came from the wind in my hair.

Livin’ The Highline…

A large portion of my bike riding youth was spent riding sections of the Highline Canal Trail which was traffic free, and offered easy access from our high altitude home to the rest of the community. The canal road, as we called it, efficiently linked our neighborhood with all the services we needed and beyond. As I got older and ventured further, I would learn that the canal road linked a good part of the southeast Denver area – I tested those boundaries well into my teens.

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Many of the best memories of my youth involved that black and white bike, and riding the canal road alone.

Faster Forward…

I am now nearly forty years removed from that childhood scene. I have been married, divorced, and helped raise a kid of my own. She rarely road her bike. A bike is less a priority to a child than it once was.  That makes me sad, but that is an essay for another day.

I have owned many bikes since my childhood.  I have ridden thousands of miles on trails, roads, and highways throughout the west. After a 15 year stint in Southern California, I returned to Colorado last month where biking is part of the culture – it’s in our green and white DNA.

My most recent bike, The Redhound, was stolen just days after I returned to Colorado. I was heartbroken. That bike has meant as much to me as my 5-speed Columbia ever did. More perhaps.

Stolen, or perhaps just reassigned...

Stolen, or perhaps just reassigned…

I immediately replaced my stolen bike with a very basic road bike because I have limited funds due to my move.  I just needed to get out there – ASAP.

A new friend...

A new friend…

Yesterday I broke in my new bike. I rode a good stretch of the trail that so well medicated my childhood. I was on the canal road for the first time in 38 years. If it sounds hokey to say I shed a tear or two as I reminisced, please forgive me. I passed the community center where I swam in my youth, and the cottonwood tree where my friends and I once launched ourselves into the canal from a tire swing. I rode to Bible Park, a place for pickup football, meeting freckle-faced girls, and later on for drinking beer after dark with my puffy armed friends.

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For a couple of hours yesterday, the 12-year old Roy and the Roy in his 50s got to hang out together – they made fast friends. Now that we’ve met, I hope we continue to see each other. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this from Butch Hancock. Enjoy…

 

 

10 responses

    • When I turned the corner and saw that sign, Doug, the first thing I thought of (swear to god) was explaining to the cops my car had been stolen. Apparently, it had just been misplaced ;-)

  1. I had no idea your bike was “reassigned.” That really stinks. Glad you had the chance to relive a little childhood magic. I try to encourage my kids to embrace the freedom they have now. If they’re anything like I was at their age, they’ll take this time for granted. They’ll have no idea what awaits them as a grown up!

    • Thanks, Heidi. Yup, stolen 2nd day here, but that’s on me for not locking it. If your kids have bikes, encourage them to use them to explore, and even (forgive me) escape from time to time.

  2. Great post, Roy. I was never a boundary tester myself. My first bike was a hand-me-down from a friend and I never rode it past the bump in the sidewalk six houses down from me, a marker beyond which I was forbade to venture. But I rode it up and down the sidewalk alone and around in circles in driveways with my friends while we talked about the trials and tribulations of elementary school life. And many a solitary hour was spent off-roading around my giant, bumpy, rut-filled backyard. I may not have been the seasoned traveler you were, but my bike was a big part of my childhood as well. I might need to write my own post about it someday. Glad you are getting the chance to re-pedal old memories. Enjoy them!

    • Short track or long rack, a bike is (was) a child’s best companion after school or on Saturday mornings. I hope you do write about it someday, Shannon. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. :-)

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