Seamless vtctor pattern with bicycles

Learning to Ride
by Tobi Alfier

I don’t remember my first “big girl bike” but I’m sure it was pink, and I’m sure it had streamers coming out of the handlebars. Training wheels? Piece of cake, but once they were off I needed some serious help.

We lived in Dallas. At the end of our very long block lived my best friend Betsy. Next door, on the other side of the wash, lived our dentist Barney. This was useful to know in case I fell off my bike on the swoop down and up of the wash, causing me to fall and break more teeth (I had already chipped one front tooth bouncing on the steering wheel of my mom’s car. Even though Barney used cinnamon-flavored x-rays I did not want to break anything more).

My mom and Betsy’s mom would coordinate. They would push us off toward the other, cigarettes dangling from their lips as they yelled encouragement. Once I made it past the wash I headed straight for Betsy’s mom, and Betsy headed straight for mine. We never crashed on the way past each other. We never took our hands off the handlebars to high five.

Our moms would catch each of us between their chino-clad knees, sometimes unselfconsciously with their hair curled around orange-juice cans and wrapped in toilet paper to look pretty when our dads got home. They would turn us around and push us back home, over and over. That is how my best friend Betsy and I learned to ride our bikes.

IMAGE: “Bike pattern” by Natality, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mom is going to be eighty this year. This was a long time ago. I remember it like it was yesterday — this was my first taste of freedom.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her most current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press, and Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press. Down Anstruther Way is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (