My childhood came to a crescendo the Christmas my mum bought me a brand spanking new Chopper. All of my mates had a chopper bike long before I did. I would watch them changing gears with the stick fashionably positioned on the bar beneath the swanky laid back seat. It looked so cool as they flashed by me in a red blur. Occasionally, I’d get a ride when they felt generous but I desperately wanted one of my own.
I think my mum bought a Chopper from Littlewood’s catalogue and struggled to pay for it but I loved it and loved her for buying it for me.
It was a gleaming racing red and I made sure it stayed that way, cleaning and polishing the frame and wheels after every use. I learnt how to keep my balance without holding the handle bars and how to stand on the seat crouched down whilst going downhill. (I polished the seat afterwards)
But it all came to a resounding crash one afternoon, and it was all my fault! I flew down the road, smoothly changing gears and became overconfident as I decided to turn the corner by leaning over to far. I came off on the corner and landed on my stomach, my hands taking the brunt of the impact. I went down with a loud thud and laid there for a moment, my ribs hurting. Directly behind was my mate Mark on his Chopper who didn’t have time to stop and he ran straight over my back in what turned out to be an almost perfect line with my spine! When I picked myself up off the pavement, Mark said to “You’re bleeding on your back “! I took my t-shirt off and there was a perfect tyre track the length of my spine, with blood seeping from the deeper indentations. As it started to burn, my mum (Inconveniently) came around the corner with a shopping bag and got a full on view of the wound. She ordered me straight into the house and I reluctantly followed, steering my Chopper in front of me.
She cleaned me up, accompanied by a full CSI grilling, after which I was ‘Grounded ‘ for the rest of the day, my bike temporarily retired until I could be trusted to ride it sensibly!
After a few long, long days I was allowed to ride it again.
I rode it constantly as part of the convoy of Choppers for months and months until we all got into football as our main pastime. The retirement of my beloved Chopper became almost permanent, apart from riding it to the shop and the football field.
For the life of me I can’t remember what happened to my Chopper.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago and we were having a meander around a Sunday morning car boot sale and my eyes were drawn to a beaten-up red chopper. It was partly rusted, the wheels and bodywork had definitely seen better days, but clearly marked in black and yellow was the name ‘Chopper’ across the middle bar. For a split second I was a boy again, riding it for the first time with a smile that complimented the red paintwork, as proud as a dog with two tails.
I walked on without a closer inspection because I knew I would have been tempted to buy a piece of a childhood I could never get back. But it was nice to see a Chopper again. I hope someone bought it and lovingly restored it to its place as King of bikes.