Fifty-five is a relative number. As I read this site and its forums, I often think of the bikes I've owned over the years past and bikes I'd like to own in the future. I think about my first solo ride without training wheels. Some bikes bring instant feelings of comfort, some recall bitter-sweet (think injuries) memories.
My first unassisted solo ride was on my "little" uncle's fixed gear racer. I was a tallish 8 year-old and I remember taking the bike from its not-so-secret hiding place and riding it on the hard-packed gravel road in front of the house. I remember how strange and exciting it felt to glide along that gravel road with that crunching sound. I remember being chased by a dog and how scared I was...and I was laughing. I remember pedaling as fast as my little legs would go to get away from that dog...and laughing and smiling so much my face and lungs hurt. And remember how I wanted to do this over and over again.
The first "real" bike I could officially call my own was a bent rusty junkyard rescue 5-speed of unknown pedigree...springer seat, straight bar, 27" wheels and no lever/cable for the rear brake. I cleaned it up, moved the front lever/cable to the downtube with worm clamps, lubed it, pumped up the cracked tires, and rode it. My privileged friends rode Schwinn Varsitys.
Later that day, I crashed it into a parked car when a motorist hit his?/her? horn behind me and panicked my 14 year-old heart. I went for the brake lever on the downtube to stop, missed it, then promptly crashed into a parked car....HARD. The left open end of the rusty and flakey chrome-plated handlebar created a nasty wound on my chest under my left arm....and I screamed a silent scream cuz' it HURT!!!! I didn't tell Mom and Dad cuz' I thought they'd be mad at me for riding an unsafe bike....and I needed stitches. Dad found out a couple of weeks later and bought me a safe and new Schwinn Varsity a month later as my wound pinked over.
I never got stitched, no tetanus shot....just old-school large-wound band-aids and aloe.
So...what's your childhood bike story looking back?