Bought a New Bike, Ready to Ride in St. Petersburg

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley


My new ride.

For years I’ve said I wanted to get a bike. I always had one growing up, but when I moved to Florida, I had to leave my good ol’ Schwinn mountain bike behind. Now I have a new one, which I bought this week for $50.

Growing up, I rode my pink and purple Huffy everywhere. I used to love coasting down hills in my neighborhood, just me and four-wheeled freedom. Because I lived so close to downtown, I would regularly ask my mom if they needed anything at the store. She didn’t usually need anything, but she knew I liked to feel grown-up, so she’d usually ask me to get her something small — a toothbrush, a razor, a box of Good ‘N Plenty. The worst was when she’d ask me to buy a gallon of milk. Oh man. My bike would teeter back and forth as I rode the mile from CVS to my house, and I’d wonder if I would make it back okay. I always did.

Bikes also remind me of the neighborhood block party that the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Mudville” held every year on the Fourth of July. (I grew up in a part of Holliston, Mass., called Mudville, which is where we like to believe Casey at the Bat is from.) Mayor Blair always had a bicycle decorating contest, which is a great idea for kids, not such a great idea for their parents.

I remember hiding behind my garage with friends, secretly decorating our bikes so we could “surprise” our parents. One summer, I got out my four sticker books and put stickers all over my bike — pretty much everywhere except the wheels. Then I got my red and white pompoms that I had bought at a yard sale and held on to them as I rode my bike. I somehow didn’t win the contest — or my parents’ approval.

“Mallary! What did you do??!!”

“I decorated my bike! See all the stickers?” My favorite were the glittery ones.

Alas (or thankfully), my new bike doesn’t have stickers on it, and I don’t plan to decorate it anytime soon. But I do plan to ride along the water and the streets of St. Pete. And I live down the street from CVS, so  some bike rides for the occasional (half!) gallon of milk might just be in order.

What are some of your favorite childhood memories of riding a bike?

If you’re from the area: Where should I ride in St. Pete?