DAVID SPARKS: 7 forks worth of trouble (column)

David Sparks

David Sparks

I know this title has already conjured up an image for you, but it’s not what you might think. As a fat, stupid kid trying to make friends in Breacon, it was hard at first. I had flaming red hair, I was fat and let’s face it, I was not very bright. 

I had a lot of attention on me but not the right kind or so I thought. One way I thought of to help me make friends was to put on a show of cool that would awe neighborhood kids to the point that they would think they just had to be my friend. But exactly what required me to go into overtime in my thinking process? 

A fad going around at that time was to extend the front forks of your bicycle by adding extra sets to the front end. One kid had five sets of front-end forks on his bicycle and everyone was talking about how cool that looked. OK, I could beat that. I traded for sets of forks from old bicycles until I had six sets of forks.

Counting the one that came on my brand new purple Huffy bicycle, I would have seven in total. I spray painted the other sets and assembled my franken-bike. Once it was ready, I got on for my inaugural ride. 

There was a problem, of course. When I sat on it, I was so far leaned back that the front wheel came off of the ground. In effect I had no steering and was popping a wheelie constantly. The constant wheelie effect, I thought, was cool, but I had to be able to steer. I solved this by leaning forward when I needed to steer; sheer genius, I thought!

Then the ride down the street in front of my friends. I went by a large group gathered in one yard and they all stared at my creation. So, I did what came natural for someone so cool. I leaned back and waved. The effect was immediate and disastrous. The front wheel came way up in the air, much further than before. It came so far up I panicked and threw myself forward so hard the front wheel slammed down onto the pavement. The forks broke off and dug into the pavement stopping the bike immediately. 

The result of that sudden stop threw me over the handlebars where I landed on my back in the middle of the road in front of everyone. As I lay there trying to get my breath to re-inflate my lungs. Everyone ran over to check on me. One neighborhood kid, Ronnie Davis, leaned over me and told me, “No one can do more than five forks, it’s too dangerous.”

Now Ronnie Davis and I became life-long friends but at that moment I wished he would have given that sage advice while I was building franken-bike, not after. 

However, like almost every lesson I learned, I had to learn it for myself by making that particular mistake. But isn’t that the way of life even if you are not fat and stupid?

David Sparks