Like most little kids, my first bike came with three wheels. I tend to imagine all of my childhood rides in red, but I honestly can’t remember the color. What I remember most is the thrill of being able to roll about and go wherever I liked. I’m sure my mother has pictures somewhere of me on the actual tricycle, but all I have now are my memories. I’m equally not sure it was quite as cool looking as this one and was most likely something far more plain and simple. But it wouldn’t have mattered in the least. Getting your first set of wheels is a thrilling occasion. Sure, it really wasn’t possible to go faster than the speed of walking, and any child at a run could outrace you, but having those wheels made it all okay. It was chance to be like those big kids I’d seen on their two-wheeled bicycles as they zoomed past me. One day, that would be me, but in that moment I could dream I was just like them.
From here, I was upgraded to a bike with training wheels. It seemed like a bit of step backward since there were now four wheels, and my entire goal was to make it to just two. Riding on two wheels seemed like magic to watch at the time. It really seemed like it should be impossible. Those kids on 10-speed bikes who sailed down the street on the thinnest wheels I’d ever seen where my heroes. Sometimes without any hands on the handlebars and always without helmets (this was in the early 70’s after all. People weren’t ignoring the rules, there were just several hundred on parenting that hadn’t been written yet, and we all mysteriously managed to survive anyway). I eventually got a new bike myself, of course, and could travel farther from home than ever before on an endless number of adventures. This lasted several years and I was initially content, thinking I’d conquered one of life’s greatest challenges. But, as with most things in life, there’s always something a little better waiting just around the corner.
As happy as I was to be gliding around on two wheels, I weirdly started to find myself craving four again. I had just turned 15 and was learning how to drive something far more adventurous in the form of a car. Well, an old truck my parents let me use to practice. I was about to become as close to being an adult as one gets before actually becoming one. Though who can really say when we actually become one. I would be able to go wherever I wanted with my friends. Not just places in the neighborhood, but places far away from me. I would be able to go on dates and make out in the back seat! I would soon go to college and have my very own apartment, or compartment as the reality was, but still, it was going to be so amazing. I’d have a job and I would be entirely on my own! The independence I sought the moment I was born was just within my reach. Looking back, I only have to chuckle. We’re never truly on our own, thankfully, and life is never better than the version we learn most definitely requires others. But I was so busy shaping me back then that I was often too busy to stop and notice. I was on an unstoppable trajectory and great things must surely be happening next, thanks to those three little wheels of my very first bike.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Blue, and Payne’s Gray. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!