Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962

My mother and I ready for a bike ride.

I was 16 and my mother was 39 in this photograph. We were getting ready to go bike down Old Plank Road. I was bare footed. We used to bike past the neighbors on the hill and down to a pond that was small and weedy. Sometimes we skated there in the winter. The neighbors had two big dogs that were often outside and we would peddle fast to get past before the dogs got to the road. We’d take enough time riding to the pond and looking at the water for them to go back up and then we’d repeat the ride back to the house. The dogs never got to us.

Barefoot biking.

I got my first bike on my 8th birthday. It was a basic, blue bike. I didn’t know how to ride and it took me so long to learn that my mother finally threatened to give the bike to my cousin Barbara if I didn’t learn how to ride. I don’t remember anybody holding the bike and running with me. I do remember practicing in the driveway of the house on Chicago until I learned to ride. At that point I only rode around the block.

When I was older, I remember going bike riding all around the neighborhood with my cousins, Dee Dee and Barbara. We rode in the street, which I wasn’t supposed to do. My sister and I used to go bike riding too but we usually had a destination – the library or my grandmother’s house. I lost that bike when I left it unchained outside of a store on W. Grand Blvd. We were on the way home from the Main Library. Later it was replaced by a three speed bike. I had that one up at Old Plank until we sold the place and then I had it in the Detroit. It too was stolen when my husband left it unchained on a porch one night.

When we lived in Idlewild, from 1986 to 2007, I used to ride my Uncle Hugh’s old bike. It had a bigger than average seat which made it more comfortable for me to ride, however it was old and had been through a lot and the tires were sort of crooked. I enjoyed riding it the 4 miles around the lake and for one memorable 5 mile ride into town with my daughter, Ife. She was going to work so she had 6 hours between her rides. I had to turn around and ride 5 miles back. If the streets around my house here were flat and I didn’t see rottweilers trotting down the street alone, I would get a bike and ride now.  I know I am not going to take a bike to a park to ride.

Other posts about Old Plank

Picking Beans – Old Plank 1963
Playing Poker at Old Plank – 1962
Old Plank road in Shadow – 1962

24 thoughts on “Biking at Old Plank Road, 1962

  1. Great recounting of your memories. Your mother sounds like fun – the mother we all wish we had. And then, you repeated the experience with your daughter. Too bad about having two bikes stolen, but it sounds like you got a lot out of them while they were yours.

  2. A great post. So fitting.

    It brought back memories – three speed bikes, and my favorite bike that got stolen when I didn’t lock it. I was gone for 10 minutes and it vanished.

  3. I was 14 before I got my own two-wheeler. The only ride I can really remember was a 50mile trip with my Father to see relations in another part of Lincolnshire. Sound as though you had great fun. Leaving a bike unlocked is very risky wherever you are these days.

  4. I had a hard time learning to ride too. Someone gave my dad a bike they didn’t want any more so he brought it home for me. It was too tall and heavy and I gave up until I finally got one my size. I enjoyed reading your bicycle memories!

  5. I had friends who biked barefooted but I could never stand the roughness of the pedals against my feet. In fact, I was never much for going barefoot, period — too many bees and too many rocks.

  6. Of course post man or women should be dog lovers! I’ve known a mailman or two that also carry snacks for those hard to please dogs! I really liked your opening title, funny how the titles we give just stand out….and your first photo sure brought back the good old days! Great post!

  7. This brings back memories of when I learned to ride a bike. I learned on an old, used bike that that was an ugly shade of dark green. I think that my parents promised that I could get a better bike AFTER I learned how to ride. It took lots of scraped knees, but I eventually mastered it.

  8. What happy biking memories you have. I was never allowed a bike as a child and had to beg to ride a friend’s so you were really lucky.

  9. Great memories and, as usual, a great post. The biking theme seems to have transported so many of us back to our childhood – it was a great theme (Little Nell suggested it, not me)

  10. Like the first picture especially – it’s so clear and bright. Your mother looks younger with her hair down and from the way you describe her, she must have been a fun mom. I remember riding my bike barefoot too. My siblings and I went barefoot all summer and usually ended up with several stubbed toes – ouch! Thank goodness for leash laws now, unless a dog escapes the fence we don’t have to contend with them. It was annoying back then to always have to be on the lookout for mean dogs – wondering if you were going to have start running or climb the nearest tree!

    1. I never thought of my mother as a fun mom. She did do things with us that were fun but she was also no nonsense and the older we got, the stricter she got. She wore her hair in a braid much of the time when she wasn’t teaching or going somewhere. They have lease laws around here but that doesn’t seem to stop the dogs from trotting down the street like they have someplace to go – all alone. I especially do not like the bigger lose dogs.

  11. I like it when your writing gets so many of us remembering our own similar experiences. Perhaps it is because just about everyone has a photo like this too. I think bicycles represent the first joy of freedom and independence for children. And that wonderful feeling lasts too. I gave my dad a bike on his 78th and my mom got a tricycle for her 81st!

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