Meet the new bike – same (almost) as the old bike

us six at the Manse

I’ve showed you this photo before; I love it because it’s the only picture I have of my whole family (my dad, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick; my mum, Lorna; and, from left, me, Melanie, John and Ken) from the days when I was growing up at the Manse in Queensborough in the 1960s. However, I’m showing it to you today because it is ALSO the only known photo of my very first bike. It’s the sweet little blue CCM that you can see parked on the Manse’s front porch behind us. Dad always made me park it on the porch to keep it out of the sun that might fade its paint – and I haven’t forgotten the lesson. (Photo probably by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

People, I have got myself a bike! It’s something I’ve been wanting pretty much since Raymond and I bought the Manse four years ago – a way to get around Queensborough (and a little beyond) when I want to go quicker than on foot but without burning fossil fuels.

My dream, much scoffed at by people who are more serious cyclists than I am (which is pretty much the entire world), was an old-fashioned bike with no gears to work, no cables running from handlebars to wheels, and brakes that you’d apply by cycling backwards. Also: a bike with a comfortable seat and that allowed you to sit up straight rather than hunkering down over the handlebars.

A bike, in short, very like my first one. Which was the best gift ever from my parents, The Rev. Wendell and Lorna Sedgwick, when I was perhaps eight years old and growing up right here at the Manse in Queensborough.

I remember that bike well. It was a little CCM, just the right size for a small girl of eight or so, and it was a lovely light blue, with a white seat and handlebars and fenders. I didn’t yet know how to ride a bike when I received it, but I remember my dad patiently holding me steady and upright as I wobbled a few times around the Manse’s front yard – and how then, suddenly, magically (as always happens when people figure out bike-riding), I got the hang of it and took off to ride on my own around the block that is “downtown” Queensborough. And from there, I could go anywhere on my bike! The best was riding up to the top of the hill at the western edge of our village, past the former one-room school and the former St. Henry’s Roman Catholic church, and just whizzing down it at what felt like the speed of sound, whistling down the wind. (When I came back to Queensborough many years later, I was startled at how un-steep that hill, so challenging and fun in my childhood, turned out to be; but I have decided that it must have been levelled down a bit in the interim. Either that or it’s yet one more case of things being so much larger and more impressive when seen through a kid’s eyes.)

Anyway: my dream of having a bike in my Manse adulthood that’s like the bike I had in my Manse childhood has come true! And here it is:

Me with my new bike

Same house, same porch, and a delightfully similar bike! Me smiling about my new wheels as Raymond and our friend Lauraine look on from the porch. (Photo by Paul Woods)

I gasped when I saw this bike in the bike section of the Target store in Biddeford, Maine, during the recent seacoast vacation that Raymond and I took. It was perfect! Retro styling, no gears, brake by pedalling backwards, a comfortable seat – and it was turquoise! (Which is a very resonant colour for me here at the Manse, as longtime readers will know from posts like this and this and this.)

It is a Schwinn Cruiser, and while it looks (in my opinion) like a million bucks, the price was stunningly low. People, this gorgeous bike cost only $139! Now, granted, that’s $139 U.S., which at the current horrible exchange rate is about $3,500 Canadian – no, no, I’m kidding. The exchange rate is horrible, but still, I got this great-looking bike for considerably less than $200 Cdn. You can’t beat that with a stick.

I had to laugh at myself as I wobbled around the Manse’s front yard a few times when I first got on it – just like the first time I got on that little CCM back in about 1968. (And don’t think I wasn’t missing my dad being there to keep me upright.) It had, I realized, been a long time since I’d been on a bike. But I got the hang of it once again, and have zipped around the block a few times since. I need to get a basket so that I can cart stuff – like a dozen farm-fresh eggs from Debbie the Queensborough egg lady, or bulletins to be delivered for the Sunday service at St. Andrew’s United Church – while I’m riding around on my retro turquoise two-wheeled wonder. But aside from that, I’m thrilled about my bike and the possibilities.

Now I just have to work up the nerve to climb up that hill on the western edge of the village – and whip down it once again, after all these years. I hope the wind still whistles.

12 thoughts on “Meet the new bike – same (almost) as the old bike

  1. Your story drew me in, Katherine; I once had a bike and your well described story reminded me of that. Thanks and good luck getting the wind to whistle for you down that hill . . .

  2. Good Morning,
    My are you great at bringing back childhood memories! Your story today could be mine. Riding down Scarborough Road in Toronto on my new Raleigh bike that I used as a paper boy.
    How we took care of something new that was either given to us or we purchased with our own hard cash.
    Go for the hill at the western end of Queens borough but please don’t try it with “no hands”.
    Thanks for your story,
    Chris Fox
    Black River Road

    • Hi Chris! I’m delighted that my own first-bike reminiscences brought back some for you too. And yes, taking care of the bike: my dad really emphasized that, and I will never forget those lessons. Thank you for the encouragement to whiz down that hill once again. I confess that even in my youth, when we’re all a bit reckless, I didn’t have the nerve to do it with no hands – did you try that on Scarborough Road? I’m such a scaredy-cat that I most certainly wouldn’t try it now, though I was always in awe of the kids who could do it.

  3. Hi Katherine . . . Thanks for the picture of the blue bike. Sorry that we missed the photo of you and the bike competing in Rio (Brazil). Regards Gerry and Bev Boyce

  4. we continue to enjoy reading your stories!….my bike makes it up and down all the Queensboro area hills without any problem ( oh yea, it has an engine!). haha

    • Thanks for the kind words, Bob! Yes, I saw from your Facebook photos that you had a good bike ride (motorbike, that is) to Queensborough the other day. I expect when I start trying to climb hills with my one-speed bike I’m going to be wishing for that engine!

  5. Your bike is beautiful! I love the colour. I still remember my first bike. It was purple with a banana seat (popular in the 70s). A couple of years ago I bought a white city bike — my first in twenty years — and I really enjoy riding it around the neighbourhood.

    • Oh boy, do I ever remember those 1970s bikes with banana seats. And monkey bars! I wanted one so badly! But I do love the way my new bike reminds me of my very first one, from even before the era of banana seats.

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