Image Source: 23mag.com
My first bike in Jacksonville was a Huffy with a banana seat. I actually wanted it at the time, because the banana seat said HUFFY under my butt, and I thought that was pretty “rad.” It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was a lost bit of chum in the shark pool of kid-dom.
I was vaguely aware of BMX in Brunswick, but Florida was an entirely different world. As I casually rode my Huffy straight-up around my new neighborhood, all the other kids were riding track-approved bikes from GT and Mongoose. It was 1982: biker and gear impresario Bob Haro was a featured stunt-rider on the big screen in E.T., BMX Plus! was on every newsstand and my new home pulsed with the culture of bicycle motocross.
Right away I became obsessed. I somehow decided that my favorite rider was Greg Hill, who rode for Team GT. I wrote to Hill, asking for an autographed picture and stickers (because I was a ballsy, presumptuous kid), and he came through with all of the above! I was stoked! A fan for life!
In Jacksonville I was the new kid, and a hick from the sticks at that. I and my Huffy were surrounded by surf-and-skate rats on tricked-out bikes, like a slightly younger Daniel LaRusso surrounded by the Kobra Kai. Things would have to change.
Immediately I needed a new bike. Preferably a GT like Greg Hill. But I would also need to trick out the bike with Haro rims and number plate, Oakley handlebar and frame pads and those bitchin’ Oakley handlebar grips. Oh, and of course I would need a GT helmet and jersey and pants. What, those are unreasonable demands from a ten-year-old?!?
Ultimately I settled for a Mongoose, with the grips and pads and without the rims. And it was oh-by-the-way an entirely acceptable compromise. With my new bike in tow I would spend hours shredding the trails in the woods, practicing new jumps and loving the feeling of fitting in (or at least fitting in outside of school).
On my bike, with my friends, I was free. Free to catch air, free from the bullying and awkwardness that resided in the classrooms and halls. Free to be me. And free from having a HUFFY banana seat.