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September 18 - October 18, 2015

Bicycle Stories

artspace and Richmond Young Writers

Plant Zero Project Space Hallway Galleries

Alex Wright, Age 11
illustrated by JOHNNY HOTT

"Bicycle," even the word itself sounded gnarly. I rode throughout the busy Carytown streets. People in their cars watched in wonder as I zoomed past, faster than the speed of light! And when I finally slowed down, a whole crowd was running up towards me holding signs, chanting my name and asking for autographs. A news reporter ran up to me. The light from his camera nearly blinding me as he proceeded to ask me questions.
I sat straight up. My heart was still pounding from what appeared to be only a dream. Something as bright as the sun was shining in my eyes. It was Mary, my younger sister holding a flashlight. "Shhh, you'll wake up Jonas," she whispered, " Itís time to get up. People are already lined up at the doors, we have a ton of bicycles to do, plus all the +new business we'll get because of the big race."
"Mary, I had another dream, you know about bicycling. I was faster than the speed of light, and there were reporters, and people waving signs and cheering!"
"Sam, you know how father feels about this," she said nodding her head in disapproval. I wondered how Mary could always make it seem as though she was the older sibling. Mary pulled the new shirts dad had made out of her bag and laid them down on my bed. "These are for you, dad says we all have to wear them. The shirts were assorted colors and said "Bike Mechanic" either on the front or the back.
I bathed, dressed, grabbed a few freshly baked biscuits, and began my morning chores. I pedaled out to pick up some more paint and tools and then raced back. It was only 7am, no one was really up yet. I thought about asking father about training for the big bicycle race, and without a second thought, I decided I would indeed ask my dad again for permission to participate.
Late that night at dinner I began my plea. "Dad, I want to ride in the race, I know that you don't approve, but why?"
"Son, it's not a matter of disapproval, it's a matter of survival. We all help this family in some way. Mary tends the house, the shop, and helps your baby brother Jonas. We make and fix bikes. Now, imagine what would happen if I suddenly quit working to ride bikes? We wouldn't have enough money to keep our home or business afloat. Now imagine what would happen if you rode a bike all day, not only would you be too tired and exhausted from training to work, but think of all the money we would lose from being short staffed."
After dinner, we all went to bed in silence.
Dad laid in bed that night, feeling disappointed in himself. He remembered when he had had a dream and his father pushed him into the family business of fixing bikes. He remembered an almost identical conversation he had with his father when he was a teenager. He realized he wanted more for Sam, than to have a dream deferred. Heíd find a way to get by without Samís help. He slowly got out of bed to tell Sam that he could enter and train for the race after all.
I woke up the next morning, so excited that I prayed it all hadn't just been a hallucination or perhaps a cruel nightmare. I biked down to the Belmont library and picked up every book that mentioned the word "bike." I needed to research all the great riders and their training habits. I could envision myself as I read about others. The funny thing about the books, everyone I read taught me something about bikes and something about the lives of cyclists.
Some books even told stories relatable to my own. Stories about poor kids racing after their dreams, and in this case,
I was literally about to embark on doing just that...

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