Skip to main content

Riding Without Training Wheels

We had a beautiful Sunday here in Champaign-Urbana. Only two weeks ago today there was a foot of snow falling, and now we have 70 degree temps and plenty of sunshine. It was a nice day to do some walking, and so I walked, purposefully. Part of my job as an elected precinct committee person is to get information to voters. I did so this afternoon by dropping-off some campaign literature for various candidates. Hopefully there wasn't much bother to folks, simply putting the lit in their doors, and moving on.

As I meandered up Daniel St., a father and son could be seen on the sidewalk. The son was on a bicycle with training wheels, the father sometimes beside him, sometimes behind him. This was at the portion of Daniel St. that comes to an end right at the front of Westview, my old elementary school. In fact, it is the same school where I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. It's a coincidental reminder of living in the town you grew up in, seeing a father and son and a bike with training wheels so close to where you learned to ride without them.

On a day probably not unlike today, dad and I went over to Westview, on a weekend so as to have some space and privacy. There was a nice expanse of blacktop upon which to ride, surrounded of course by grass and a playground. There Lewis removed the training wheels, and walked next to me as I teetered along with the bicycle. This was a long time coming, as we'd enjoyed several bike rides together, but I was still a bit of a burden until the ride could be properly mastered.

Scared and nervous, I remember uneasily maintaining control of the bike, dad keeping his hand on the back wheel cover for support. Shakiness was the order of the day. "Not today, but perhaps soon," I remember thinking, in regards to mastering a ride without the need of extra wheels. By this time I'd gone off the blacktop and onto the grass, and wondered how much longer Lewis wanted this jaunt to go on. So, I looked back at him, and he was standing on the blacktop! Way, way back there, nothing but an expanse of grass between us.


I fell over.

I'll probably never forget that day, along with the smile on dad's face as he watched me way out there on the grass, unwittingly riding on my own, big boy pants fully on without even knowing it. And, yes, I think he laughed when I crashed onto the ground, but that part could just be a trick of memory. Regardless, his plan worked, and I never needed training wheels again.

Years later, I do not ride as much I used to.  A nice green Schwinn, nicknamed 'Kermit,' sits unused and collecting dust in the basement. I should ride it more often. It got a lot of use from 2007-2009, when a friend and I participated in Chicago's World Naked Bike Ride, and when I used to bike to work. I don't do those activities anymore, but perhaps I could get back into the swing of things with some recreational bicycling? Nothing strenuous, mind, maybe just a jaunt across the blacktop and onto the grass.


Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …


"Step out from the mask you stand behind Fearful lost and blind Time to take the time The pressure’s on you Hide away, hide away No tomorrow, just today"
- Brilliant, Ultravox
Today was National Coming Out Day, so of course it gives some pause for reflection on my own coming out story. It was in April 1993, my junior year of high school (go Chargers!). In the six years of writing this blog, I have alluded to how I came out, but never really delved into the intricacies of how it came about. What better day to do so than today?
My first (small) indications of homosexuality manifested in grade school. While in first grade, I thought a fifth grader looked cute. In fifth grade, I would stare, longingly, at a boy in class, until he caught me looking at him. There were some infatuations with boys in middle school, and a first sexual experience during freshman year of high school. Everything up to that point had been, for the most part, based in the physical realm. I liked the way certain…