The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Thinking back on the days of the school bike rack

 

February 17, 2019



What happened to the school bike rack? Did the band cut it up for drumsticks?

I suppose if I asked today’s students where the bike rack was located I would get a lot of really strange looks. I suppose some might not even be familiar with a bicycle.

Mine might have been the last generation to ride their bike to school. We also walked to school a lot after we moved to town and got off the school bus route.

A friend and I were reminiscing the other day about how we rode bikes to school and didn’t even have to lock them up. He quickly reminded me that we did eventually start locking our bikes after his was stolen one day. He called the cops with no luck but I saved the day by finding it while running my paper route.

The first bicycle I got was one a grandparent won in a raffle or door prize drawing at the bank. It was a great bike, a real Schwinn, red in color with just one problem. It was a 26-inch bike and I was a first-grader who lived in the sandhills.

Either training wheels came with the bike or some were purchased and I learned to ride sliding from one side of the bike crossbar to the other. We also discovered that a product called Never-Leak was a country kid’s best friend when he lived in the goathead patch.

Somehow I actually learned to ride on that bicycle and I never owned a helmet. Later, Dad picked up a couple of what were known in the day as banana-seat bicycles at an auction. Mine was the bigger gold one with the animal print vinyl seat and my brother’s was a smaller red one that actually turned out to be a lot more fun to ride because it was easier to pop a wheelie on.

We actually rode those bikes after we moved to town and got paper routes. I didn’t wear a backpack to school either — that probably would have gotten you beat up. You either put those books in one arm and rode with the other or you tied them on some way. Or in my case later on you put them in your paper bags.

Working on our own bikes was a point of pride if not necessity. We kept spare tubes and patches in the garage, so if we had a flat we could change it ourselves with a couple of wrenches and two large flat-bladed screwdrivers. If you don’t know what the screwdrivers were used for, you never changed a bicycle tire.

I traded up to a 10-speed with English handlebars that only worked good on a paper route if you flipped them upside down. So when I got enough money I bought a three-speed with regular handlebars for my work rig and then flipped my handlebars over on the racing bike so I would look cool again.

They were our transportation until we got our driver’s license. We rode them everywhere and lots of places had bike racks back then. Schools had really big bike racks back then.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

karlterry@yucca.net

 
 

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