Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bicycle

Back in Annandale, Va. again as a kid.

The court I lived on  was a hard right turn at the bottom of a hill.  The house that sat on the corner was pressed up very close to this hilly street.  Many residents complained repeatedly that the close proximity of the house to the street obstructed the view of cars coming down the hill as you exited my court.  A number of fender benders had happened at this small neighborhood intersection, but of course, nothing could be done.  No one was going to move the house.

One of the other kids in the court had a sister.  This little sister had a bike and she had been trying to ride it for months without much success.  She had fallen so many times and scraped knees, elbows, palms, face, she was now terrified of it.  We tried to help.  We showed her the bike would balance on its own as long as it was rolling.  This was demonstrated to her by running along side the back pushing it up to speed (with no one on it of course) and then letting it go.  It would coast upright, perfectly balanced until it either ran out of momentum or ran into something.  Didn't phase her.  She refused to try so we gave up.

It gave us a great idea though.

We took her bike to the entrance of the court.  One kid hid in the bushes on the opposite side of the court entrance and another manned the un-manned bike.  It took a little practice for timing, but the 'spotter' kid would yell "Now!" and the runner would get the bike up to speed and let it go.

Now with this house up so close to the street, the blocked view worked both ways.  A car coming down the hill could not see something exiting the court until it's nose was just about into the street.  So, if timed correctly, this bike would come flying out of the court, coasting upright into the street and the driver could never stop in time.  Brakes squealing, metal crashing, the driver would always hit the bike.  We would then run!  Man, we were stupid.

This went on for a couple of days until the bike was so beat and bent up, it wouldn't roll on its own.  The kid's sister cried for 2 days.  Man, we were stupid!

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