by Jenny Lynch
@Ken Dorado – I see your Big Wheel® Night Rider and raise you a Cabbage Patch Kids Big Wheel®. Nothing screams “badass” like a purple and teal “bike” with flower stickers and a basket for your toys. (Side note: Anyone who has seen my current bike may notice that my style has not changed much over the years and I still tote around just as much luggage).
Growing up on a small cul-de-sac in Chicago provided an excellent training ground for riding. My routine consisted of going around in small circles over and over and over and….. I looked forward to the time when I could take on the wild yonder past the end of the block. When I was finally able to graduate from my Big Wheel to the big leagues (i.e. a Huffy), I was ecstatic. My first “real” bike was a lovely shade of neon pink. It was, of course, adorned with handlebar streamers and spoke beads, a natural continuation of “badassness.” Every 4th of July the kids in the neighborhood would decorate their bikes and form one large crazy train that rolled throughout the hood. I remember thinking that life could not get any better.
(I’m not this old, but I found this picture online of my neighborhood walk/bike parade from back in the day. Cool to think of how far back it has been a tradition!)
My next big bike milestone came when I outgrew the neon pink machine. My parents got me another Huffy (nothing like building brand loyalty at an early age). It was purple with neon pink accents and a neon pink paint splash effect on the frame… much more sophisticated than its predecessor. This bike also had the potential for pegs. Yes, pegs, the ultimate bike accessory! My peg dreams were quickly quashed by my parents (and in retrospect… probably for the best). I loved my pegless bike in all its glory for many years. I even loved it after I unsuccessfully tried to stand up AND let go of the handlebars at the same time [fail…scars].
Come junior high, my purple bike with neon splashed paint was not as cool looking as I remembered. It was even rejected by a bike thief in the neighborhood (three bikes unlocked and out in the open, only two were taken… hmm, was it that bad?! How rude…). When I started high school, I retired from my amateur bike career and sadly there was a long hiatus before my love for biking was rekindled.
Fast forward many years and, on a whim, I purchased my first road bike. Similar to my Big Wheel, there was some amount of purple and flowers involved. After a couple more years, Lindsey Fahey decided that it was time to be legit with this bike thing (reference Fahey SMOTW). After much trepidation, I joined her and a lovely group of ladies on a Tuesday morning ride. Despite having no clue what I was doing, I was so drawn to how friendly everyone was and how accepting they were of such a flaming amateur. The more I went on SM rides and met people, the more I grew to love the team and the whole underground bike culture that I had previously evaded me.
Two monkey years later, I have learned a ton, I am still NOT “so pro”, but overall I have had a wonderful time and look forward to many more years pedaling away. When I sat down to write this I was flooded with amazing memories from my childhood that involved bikes, fun, and friendship. Reflecting on the past few years and my time with Spidermonkeys, that continues to be the theme.