By Dave Shore – Carrot River, Sask.
It was while growing up on a farm southeast of Carrot River, Sask. in 1956-57 that I acquired my first one-speed bike. We had quite a few acres of recently cleared land which was plowed and worked once. There were still a lot of roots to pick – a common job on the farm during those years.
This one summer, at the start of school holidays, dad had to go up north to work between seeding and harvest. I was about 11 years old. He made a deal with me that if I picked the roots, put them in piles and burned them, he’d send me a bike. I started picking.
I’d pick roots in the morning and again in the evening when it was cooler, putting them in piles and burning them, as was the deal. About a month later, a neighbour brought out a large box. He’d picked up at the train station in town. It was for me.
Inside the box was the bike dad had promised me, but it was in parts. I had to put it together before I could then learn to ride it. In time, I’d accomplished both. I used it to go out to the field to pick roots and rode around the countryside.
When school started in September, I rode the bike to school. When it rained, the dirt road would get muddy and the fenders would plug up.
My older sister, Pat, was upset because she had to walk while I rode the bike. After school one day, she got out ahead of me and rode it home herself. It ended up in a feud between us and the teacher told me to leave the bike at home.
After we moved to Arborfield, Sask. in 1959, I rode the bike in the country collecting beer bottles. Some weekends, starting Friday after school, I rode the bike all the way out to the farm where dad was working to help him. It was about 18 miles. I never had a problem. The roads were some dirt and some gravel.
I soon got a job after school doing chores at the cafe for $4 a week. I bought a new bike, a Golden Hawk. It was gold in colour and had balloon tires, for a dollar down and a dollar a week. I sold that first bike to a friend in town and he rode it for a time after that.
Years later, I look back and wonder how I managed to ride a single speed bike all those miles on gravel and dirt roads.