Monday, June 21, 2010


My grandfather bought it for Mike and me when we lived in the projects; we had to share it. Still, StingRays were the coolest way to get around that summer, and we had one of the first; it was dark blue, with a white seat, and I don't think either one of us walked a block if it was our turn on the bike. The older kids taught us how to do wheelies, how to skid on gravel, and how to peel out, necessary skills if you were going to be cool.
We had our share of crashes-I remember smashing into the side of a milk truck, and flying over the handlebars after running headlong into the curb. Mike had the worst...he was riding a wheelie when the entire front wheel came off, and took off down the road ahead of him. He tried to hold it up until he could get to the grass, but no such luck-the front fork came down, slamming into the concrete, and Mike went sailing like a pebble from a slingshot. We never got hurt badly, just scrapes and the like. The most painful bike accident I ever had, I wasn't even on the bike...I was walking south on Leavitt, toward the corner at 21st Street, and my friend Miguel was on his bike, tearing west on 21st...and we met at the corner. I had the wind knocked out of me, bruises on my ribs for weeks, and a road-rashed butt from when I fell.
I've owned I dunno how many bikes over the years, but that StingRay holds a special place in my heart. When we moved, we sold it to the kids next door for ten or fifteen bucks, I forget which...we needed gas in the station wagon.
Gee...when was the last time I popped a wheelie?

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