Wheelies Turn Boys Into Men


I got a bike just like this for Christmas when I was 10 years old.

It was a dark blue, Deluxe Renegade. And it was an absolute pocket rocket. I could pedal that sucker so fast that my feet were a blur.

Once, I raced a high school kid in his Volkswagen, from a standing start, and I blew his doors off.

But being a certified speed merchant wasn’t enough, at least not on Nebraska Street in 1966.

You also had to do wheelies.

And, for what seemed like an eternity, I just could not pop a wheelie. Not even a little one. It was horrible.

The older kids offered helpful suggestions — like maybe I should get a girl’s bike and wear one of my sisters’ frilly pink dresses.

Man, I hated those guys.

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my front wheel off the ground.

But I was not a quitter, so I practiced for hours every day after school, even after it got dark.

Then, finally, one fine day I lifted the front wheel four or five inches off the ground and let out a war whoop.

I had cheated a little, jerking the gooseneck handlebars back exactly when my front tire hit the buckled pavement in front of our house.

That three-quarter-inch bump gave me just enough lift to break free from gravity, at least a little bit.

I wanted more!

I rode across that bump 10 million times over the next week, jerking backwards on the handle bars with all my might.


Progress was painfully slow. But when it happened, it really happened.

I have no idea what I did differently, but I brought the front tire way up. I mean WAY up.

I actually flipped the bike right on top of me. It was great!

Thankfully, my head broke the fall and there was no damage to my Deluxe Renegade.

In truth, it must’ve hurt a lot. I know there was blood involved.

But what I remember most is that I had experienced flight — a real wheelie. I just needed to learn how to control it a little bit.

I become a man that day. And life on Nebraska Street was good.


2 Responses to “Wheelies Turn Boys Into Men”

  1. Pearl says:

    That was great fun!! Nice writing. 🙂


    p.s. Any bike with a banana seat is cool. But a STINGRAY? Wow.

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