It’s funny how certain things stick in a person’s mind. I will never forget the first bicycle I ever had. My parents bought it for me, and when I close my eyes, I can still see the black metallic seat, with it’s gold glitter sealed under a coating of clear plastic. The frame of the bike was yellow, and it had ‘banana’ handlebars. The wheels were a full 20″, which made me feel real big when I rode it. The brand name of the bike was “Royce Union”, and it had a gold emblem on the handlebar stem. The bike was a single speed, and resembled the BMX bikes of today. This bike wasn’t one of those ‘cheapies’ that people bought from Canadian Tire, partially due to the fact that we didn’t have a Canadian Tire back then.
I was so proud of my bike, and like every kid, I bragged a bit when me and my friends gathered to talk bikes. There was a bully who lived up the road from me (Timmy from another post) who joked that I rode a bike called a ‘Royal Onion’, but despite all the other kids’ laughter, I didn’t let it bother me.
I had some adventures on that old bike. Some were great, some scary. On one occasion, my brother, who was a short little kid, wanted to ride with me. We ‘invented’ a new way to ride in which I would pedal and he, while sitting in front of me, would steer the bike. This technique worked great on pave roads, as we synchronized our talents and managed to out ride, out steer, and out maneuver most other riders in our community. Did I mention that it was not so great on gravel? We didn’t test this until a weekend where my parents planned to go camping. My brother asked if we could bring the bike, as it would keep the both of us busy and allow my parents to do other things. They agreed, and Dad packed the bike in the trunk of the car.
All was well until we took the bike out. I noticed a small hill leading up to the campsite, so we decided to try our bike technique on this hill. Just like any other day, I began pedaling as fast as I could, while my brother steered the Royce Union around the rocks. All was going well until my brother got distracted by something or other, think it may have been a wasp, and boom! The Royce Union bike, complete with it’s custom yellow paint and beautiful black metallic seat took to the air, and so did the both of us. I somehow managed to land on a nice soft spot of grass, but my little brother, he wasn’t so lucky. I watched, almost is slow motion, as he tumbled and twirled through the air, landing right on his head…on a rock. Almost immediately, a huge purple bump appeared on his head, and his little arm ended up with a terrible scrape, that bled almost immediately after he landed. He just lay there for a second, a second that seemed like an eternity.
There, now I done it, I killed my little brother. The little guy who ate my books, claimed my teddy bears, and wrecked my favorite toys was dead. Thankfully, at 11 years old, my time estimates were way off, because almost as quick as he landed, he was on his feet, screaming and bawling and yelling to mom and dad. If anyone ever had any doubts about my parents’ hearing, they were proved wrong today, because somehow, they heard my little brother’s screams, and came running to his rescue.
Besides being pretty, the Royce Union was tough. Despite my brother’s bump, which went away much quicker than my three weeks of being grounded; the little bike survived without a scratch. For each day of the grounding, I spent at least a few hours polishing my bike, getting her ready for the next adventure. An adventure without my brother steering of course. After that experience, he got his very own bike, but it wasn’t a Royce Union, I think it was a banana bike from the Hudson’s Bay.
I gave my bike all the modifications I could afford. Like every kid, I put the custom parts where they would look real cool. I found some old electrical wire in a car wreck, and carefully wrapped every other spoke from bottom to top, each set of spokes a different color, until the wheels looked like rainbows when I rode it. Then, I found some of those cool twist ties in the garbage bags, the ones where you threaded one end through the other, and attached them to each of the two front forks, so that when I rode fast, it gave a ‘clickity clack’ sound. I also made streamers from the plastic bags the bread came in, and attached them to the ends of each handlebar, and used vaseline to coat the tires and make them shine. What a proud feeling, riding my shiny yellow Royce Union bike up and down the road, my friends in tow with their custom bikes.
I don’t know what happened to that bike, for some reason, I can remember each adventure, each bump, each scrape I received while riding the bike, but I cannot remember where it ended up.
The other day, I did research on the brand name. It appears that the bike is now a collector’s item. Imagine that, me actually owning a collector’s item. Apparently, collectors are paying big bucks for those old bikes, and they are looking for the bikes in any condition. I wish they could have seen mine, with its shiny yellow paint and the black metallic seat with the gold sparkles.