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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :
THE CYCLIST
by George Lester
George Lester
I didnít learn how to ride a bicycle until I was 14 years old. It wasnít because I was that uncoordinated. Itís because I never had one. No one had bicycles in Spunky Flat and when we moved to Gladewater my dad figured if weíd gone that long without one we didnít need one then. My first introduction to a bicycle was when we went to Louisiana to visit our cousins, Junior and Clyde. They each had a paper route and a bicycle was necessary to perform their daily duties. They were very generous in letting me learn how to ride on their bikes. This was great until I returned home to Gladewater where I still didnít have that desired two- wheeler.

One sweltering summer day Gorman, a school chum, rode his bicycle to my house. As he sat resting and cooling off with a glass of lemonade he asked if I would like to go bike riding with him. I explained that my brother and I were probably the only two kids in the county that didnít have one. Gorman told me that he had an extra bike at his house and I was welcomed to use it. We immediately rode double to his house and went to a shed to retrieve the vehicle. When he rolled it out my jaw dropped. ďOh, I forgot to tell you, itís a girlís bikeĒ Gorman informed me. I had a vision of being kidded unmercifully by all my friends as I peddled along on this cute little bike. My disappointment gave way to practicality when I considered the alternative, doing without.

Soon we were a zipping all over the Gladewater area as I discovered a newfound freedom I had never experienced before. This was one of the happiest times of my life. We rode from early until late each day, never tiring of the adventure. I hoped these wonderful days would never end. But they did. One day we were going down one of the many steep hills in the area at a speed way beyond sanity. Gorman found it fun to dart toward my bike and pull away just in time to avoid a collision. He did this one time too many and the inevitable happened. As he struck my vehicle I was thrown to the ditch and landed in soft sand. I looked up to see Gorman flying through the air as if he had been shot out of a canon. His flight must have covered at least 25 feet before he came to earth.

That awful sound of his body hitting that gravel road still haunts me. The soft sand had cushioned my fall and I wasnít hurt. Gorman lay frighteningly still for a long time. Then finally I heard a groan and he started to stir. As he slowly rose to his feet I saw that his clothes had been shredded like he had battled a wild cat. Every inch of his exposed skin was raw and bleeding. His bicycle was damaged beyond repair. We were only a short distance from my house so I helped him hobble his way there. My mother treated his wounds and then drove him home. It wasnít quite as serious as it looked at first sight so he was back to normal in a short time although he was sore for a while.

I reluctantly returned the loaned bike to him and thanked him for the use of it.

I donít remember ever seeing him riding it. I guess he didnít want to be seen on a girlís bicycle.
© George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir - January 1, 2005 column
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