My First Bicycle - The Schwinn Stingray
I am unsure as to what year it was, but I would have to guess that I had turned 4, so that would be 1969, when I first got a bicycle.
My dad, who worked in the computer group at Lockheed Missiles and Space division in Sunnyvale California, was a frugal man. Thus when it was time for his eldest to have a bicycle, he scoured the internal bulletin board for one for sale (this was when it was an actual cork board, as there were no mail aliases).
What came home was a Copper Tone Schwinn Stingray, a 20" wheeled bike with coaster brakes, the banana seat, and the high rise monkey bars. It was used, but like most kid's things, the former caretaker of this fine steed grew out of it, and it was perfectly suited for my use.
I am pretty sure that I never had training wheels, instead going to straight 2 wheeled operation. It was straight to the good stuff, so to speak. I am sure I biffed a few times, and got some ouchies, but that is lost to the mists of time. I had gained some freedom.
For the short term, I was limited to up and down the block, which seemed like 100 miles to the young me. Not long after, we were given the green light to go all around the block.
I remember days where we rode like idiots around and around the block, trying to log as many complete trips as possible.
Not much later, I began riding to school, to the local Kiddie World (the most wonderful place on the planet to a 7 year old), and just going anywhere I wanted.
Freedom, on two wheels.
I do not recall what happened to that Stingray, I am sure that as I stepped into a larger bike, with gears, it got sold or donated, hopefully helping another young lad gain some independence.
Now, they are collector's items, and they are worth some serious coin. But it was priceless to me, as it began a lifetime of cycling, and the freedom that comes with it.