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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Boy Racers


Cinders.
Where did we find them?
How we spread them round the bomb site
to create a cycle track,
turned handlebars the wrong way up,
stripped bikes of inessentials:
mudguards for example, lights
brakes, bells, Derailleur gears -
replacing these with fixed wheels
which we'd never used before.
Next thing, we lowered saddles - so
that midgets could have ridden them
and put their feet to ground.
The saddles then we tipped
to point towards the stars -
for we mostly rode at night,
and that by natural light.

What was the bug that bit us?
Bums almost sitting on the wheel;
cinders hitting everywhere,
in eyes, in nose, in mouth;
feet churning pedals round like mad;
shoulder to shoulder with
the champion from two nights back;
the corner coming up,
so nearside foot down flat
and hard; handlebars against the bend;
the bike spins more than turns.
Adrenalin? I'd like to think...
We hadn't heard the word,
but something made us thrill to find
the twisted bike around the neck -
and two more piled on top.
No Health and Safety then!

Backstory

I had been referred to Dr Lloyd at Brompton Hospital for a chronic chest complaint. I could tell by the relief on my mother's face during the consultation that the news was better than she had been expecting. As we emerged she turned to the nurse and said David is keen to take up cyycling. I had meant to ask the doctor if it's a good idea. The nurse went back to ask on her behalf and reemerged to say Yes, Mrs King. No objections at all - as long as he doesn't take up this damned dirt track riding that's all the rage! Well, after that, what else could I do?

It was a passing phase,my interest soon moved on to more traditional forms of racing. I offer this little poem this morning as a good luck wish to Wiggins as he begins his attempt to bag The Tour de France for Britain.

14 comments:

Daydreamertoo said...

LOL
We did so much of this when I was a kid too. I always had my bikes in bits in the back garden. I used to turn the handlebars up or down any which way to make them look different. We had ready made bike/dirt tracks all in our local woods so, didn't need to make a gravel one. That would hurt with it all shooting up into your faces! Yikes! We did know how to entertain ourselves in those days, didn't we!
Thanks for the memory's :)

Mary said...

Ah, bicycles. Enjoyed your reminiscences. I wasn't into racing, but the neighborhood kids sometimes pretended bicycles were 'rocket ships' and we blasted off when the dial on the electric meter turned to 'zero.' Such fun! I still have a bike...and ride it (when it isn't 90+ degrees, as it is now).

Carl said...

So many memories of childhood associated with bikes. For us it was racing them down the shale logging road in the mountains behind our homes. It took forever to drag the bikes up those hills and then the rush down over all too soon.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. spent much of my childhood on bikes...they took us on many an adventure...glad the condition did not hold you back

Ygraine said...

Aah, those wonderful thrills of childhood!
Isn't it sad how we lose that 'daredevil' lack of fear when we grow up?
I took it all for granted at the time - and have been trying to rekindle it ever since!!

Thank you for the memory. I so enjoyed reading this :)

David Cranmer said...

Brought a bit of my own childhood back.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

Dave,

Overall I loved the innocence in every word you have written in this poem. That is an innocence as rare as moon dust these days:)
In fact, my first thoughts were with the rougish boy racers, who plague most towns and cities these days, while they race small but powerful motorcars. Not so innocent!!

Eileen

Thank you for all your faithful Blog visits Dave. Much appreciated.

ds said...

Ahh...the thrill of the bicycle. Couldn't have gone anywhere without mine. Sounds like you got to be pretty good at this racing you weren't "supposed" to be doing ; )

haricot said...

The thrill was simple but so sweet when I was a kid.
Nice homage for your courage friend, Dave.

Dave King said...

Daydreamertoo
Not gravel, though: cinders. Had to be for the sliding! Admittedly they hurt too, but that didn't matter!!!! Things we did back then!

Mary
Understand. 90+ is a bit over the top! Thanks.

Carl
And all before the days of mountain bikes! Great times though. If only...

Brian
Thanks. Amazingly, it didn't. Ignorance can be a wonderful condition! Today it probably would have.

Ygraine
Thank you for this. Quite agree with you about losing the dare devil approach. I think these days the kids have it taken from them. Sad how much we lose as we mature. Not just that, but creativity, for instance. It's a real fight to get it back in later life.

David
I used to think that most childhoods were alike - at least to a point. But now it seems that only holds good within a generation.

Eileen
I must admit I partly had the roguish boy racers of today in mind when I chose the title. I'm sure we were regarded rather askance by some - no mudguards was like going naked into the street!
I do agree about the rarity and value of innocence, though.
Enjoy your blog and your comments. Thanks.

ds
I suppose I did, yes. Well, I did a lot of it - but then I turned "respeccable"! Thanks.

haricot
Thanks. Simple and sweet express it perfectly!

A Cuban In London said...

Ah, this was a free-flowing, unbridled display of joy. I can fully identify myself with your poem. It was a pleasure to read it. Now, I shall get on my bike to take my daughter to the park! :-)

Greetings from London.

aprille said...

Oh, the days of homemade BMX's: just as you wrote. How the kids loved them. A pity when the real ones came along, all tarted up and not anywhere near as much fun.
For myself: I loathe riding on cinders. All the cycle paths on the old railtracks up in Scotland are cinder based. Or were last time we were up. Spoils the long distance rides.

Beachanny said...

Reading your poem was a veritable education for me. I often think (have done so all my life) that if I'd grown up in Britain I'd know more, be better at what I do and certainly write better poetry. I believe that although I have a decent vocabulary as a British woman I'd have a more colorful one. I think I cemented those thoughts my first visit to the UK and reading you reinforces those thoughts.

I saw someone in a pearly suit when I was there last. He was somewhere quite near St. Mary-le-Bow under Bow Bells and I thought it was a Cockney thing. How illuminating was the article you linked us too.

With your explanations and those of other commenters, I understand the references here and thoroughly enjoyed the poem. Although it seemed significant and personally symbolist upon first reading; with the added information it became such a jewel that delighted me and lit my day!

family vacation waikiki hotel said...

I miss my childhood. I am in love with biking, I sneak out just go biking with my friends. I remember a lot of stuff. *sigh*