My Red Ranger and Me
My best memories—those that return again and again—are of my Hero Hansa bicycle, which my father bought me in the third grade.
I loved it so much that I called it my “Red Ranger.” In fact, I became so attached that all my friends grew angry since I spent more time with my bike, instead of playing with them.
The only problem? I had no idea how to ride it. This meant that spending time with my “red ranger” involved dragging it for miles.
It seems silly now, but at the time, it was the best thing I could have ever asked for.
My dad knew about all of
this nonsense and wanted to help, but he worked long hours at a nearby power
plant and couldn’t spend as much time as he wished to with my brother and
A Surprise Visit
As I sat on my porch polishing Red Ranger, I heard my father’s car pull up. He entered the house without saying a word, which I shrugged off, thinking he’d forgotten his keys or a stack of files.
After a few minutes, though, he sternly called for me to come inside. The first thought I had was, “Did I receive poor grades at school?” I knew they were due any day.
But when I entered the room, he was smiling. “How’s your bicycle? Is it polished enough for a ride?” he asked.
I got so excited that I couldn’t utter a word. I just nodded.
Even now, at age 30, remembering that moment brings a smile to my face. It was the surprise of my life at that time—and one that would only further my love of cycling.
The Red Ranger Rides
Although I dragged red Ranger over plenty of rough roads and through muddy ditches until that point, I always kept the training wheels in place so I could cycle a few meters at a time.
So, the first thing my father and I did was remove them. I tell you what: we were a bunch of daredevils of that day!
Still, my father is a practical guy who believes in experience over theory, so it was quickly impressed upon me that I needed to get over my fear of falling. Having never really ridden my Red Ranger, this seemed like an easy enough rule to follow.
We started in a small, nearly empty park near my house. First, my father encouraged me to pedal slowly. But after a few quick circles around the perimeter, I gained confidence and began pedaling faster and faster.
Each time I turned around, though, there was my father, supporting me, holding onto my bike’s rear carrier.
Eventually, I was so focused
on cycling that I didn’t notice my father had let go—I was riding all by
What Goes Up, Must Crash Down
As soon as I did notice, however, I lost my balance and crashed. Hard. And since those were the days before helmets and protective gear were popular, I badly bruised my left elbow, leaving me crying at the top of my lungs.
After running over and glancing at my road rash, my father stated matter-of-factly, “Look! You don’t even need to go to the doctor.”
Mom had other ideas as soon as we walked through the door.
She waited until we arrived at the clinic to scold my father and me. Earlier, he promised me chocolates if I didn’t tell her that he let go of my Red Ranger.
After everything was said and done, I received six stitches on my elbow, which still bears a scar 20-odd years later.
Despite the decades that have passed, that memory lives on in my mind, forever fresh.
The Red Ranger Rusts
As I grew older, the Red Ranger became less and less important in my life, until one day it was all but forgotten.
After many years passed, I was surprised to see it rusting in the corner of my uncle’s garage. I guess my mother had given it to my cousin when I moved away to college.
Remembering past times, and imagining I could experience the thrill of riding again, I wiped the dust of the Red Ranger’s seat and handlebars.
After so many years of neglect and the accumulation of rust, though, I learned that my once-young buddy was now a fragile old man as soon as I tried to sit down. The frame creaked loudly, struggling to support my weight.
Just then, my cousin walked into the garage with a smile on his face, eagerly telling me how much fun he had with his “Red Dragon.”
I guess my buddy’s name had
changed over the years, but we bonded over all the adventures we’d enjoyed on
this hunk of metal — this beautiful bicycle.
Maybe with a lot TLC, elbow grease, and sweat, the old guy will hang around long enough to gift its next friend with their own versions of these experiences.