The Wheels of Summer

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Summers are spent on wheels. Eight; two; four—each new set of wheels leading to the next. A new, extended dose of autonomy and freedom arriving with each set.

Polyurethane
Roller-skates? Rollerblades? Skateboard? Whatever your flavor, these were likely the first wheels you scooted down the driveway or up the block. A skinned knee, or a hurt wrist—small prices to pay for newfound speed.

I recall neighborhood roller-hockey games that shut down the cul-de-sac. If you couldn’t skate, you were made team manager; we often had more managers than teams. We were all about inclusion—before it was in fashion.

Birthday parties at the roller rink and night skates through the neighborhood. I’d compare it to using flippers for the first time. All of a sudden, you’re fast!

Rubber
The two-wheeled rite of passage. Getting your first bicycle is like getting another arm. Completely game changing. Going from legs to pedal power is one of life’s greatest upgrades.

I dove in, hard. It’s safe to say my obsession with bicycles began early on. My Christmas wish list read like a parts catalog: a three-piece crankset, fancy brake lever, or a new hub set. Completely motivated by bike lust.

Back to Polyurethane
I can only speak to my own experience. Around 13-years-old, I went back to polyurethane wheels, only this time they were mounted to a skateboard.

Another rabbit hole that would see years of my life; once again consumed by a set of wheels. This time, it wasn’t about transportation—this was closer to art, imitating a sport. It became important to me to progress and find my own style. All aforementioned wheels were swiftly set aside during my wood-pushing years. Even bikes.

Thicker Rubber
For many Americans, turning 16 means receiving the ultimate pass to freedom: A driver’s license. Four wheels, a motor, and most importantly—a driver. More freedom, an upgrade to your social life, and a place to call your own. That is, if you were lucky enough to secure a car.

I had my license before I had a car. I listened to Mary J. Blige while I drove my mom’s minivan to school, occasionally stopping at McDonald’s or picking up a friend on my way.

Once I got my first my first car, a whole new love affair began. I threw paychecks and countless hours at that car, and subsequent vehicles—under the spell of auto-enthusiasm.

What Endures?
Two and four. My love of motor vehicles and bicycles lives on. Two forms of transportation that still bring me joy, and I find they age well. The most comes when you’re in the saddle, but I am just as content in the garage or workshop, tending to my movement machines.

Like chapters of our life, the wheels we ride through summer change. Age and interest dictate which wheels you keep around or re-visit—and which you definitely avoid. Our old wheels may hang in a garage, or sit static, stuffed away in a box. Maybe they’re long gone.

The miles and memories are yours to keep.

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