I was the original hipster. I rode a fixed gear, with freewheeling, the only kind I knew for the longest time. It wasn't until much later did I realize that there were actually bikes that could change gears and can cost over $100. Surprise!
My father taught me how to ride. I was 8 or 9 years old, in the football field. The only protective gear I wore was a pair of Chelsea boots my mom got from god know where. My father gave me a push and some words wisdom--like brake the back wheel not the front. The next thing I knew I was in a ditch next to the football field. We repeated this a few times until I was able to stay away from the ditch. It was such an accomplishment that I didn't kill myself, bruises and cuts sure. The worst accident shortly after I learned how to ride was I ran into a pregnant woman. She was all right, more worried about me than herself. Why didn't I brake? Perhaps I used the back brake like my Dad had told me? Blame it on Dad. Actually I just read that front braking with the proper technique is the way to go but I always thought braking front would throw one off over the handle bar.
I remember I rode to primary school. My friends (cool hipsters as well and like me totally oblivious they were hipsters) and I would just do some crazy stunts nonchalantly before school, during recess and after school, like dropping down a slope and coming back up sideways, hopefully; or tried to knock each other down using the back wheel or simply ran at each other. Back then wearing a helmet bicycling was unheard of and probably a laughable idea. After school and before dinner I would ride to pick up my sisters from the main roadway when they came back from work and ferried them home in the backseat, one at a time. When I was waiting for their buses, I would just do some "fish tailing"--braking the rear wheel while turning. I enjoyed that.
Fast forward to middle school. The original hipsters still rode their bikes on and off. My parents had promised me a new bike when I got to middle school. I think they tried to talk me out of it, monetary or otherwise, but in the end they relented. I rode my bike to school like so many other kids. I don't think we did stunts any more not regularly like we were in primary school anyway.
At post secondary school, I moved out only returned home in the weekends. Me and my flatmates would ride for fun. I don't quite remember how we got our bikes. Back then bikes were just bikes: utilitarian and proletarian or I didn't know better. Nowadays bikes are works of art and objects of desire that can cost a small fortune. They were just regular bikes but I remember I rode it down some concrete stoop with three or four steps as if it was a small BMX. And one time I rode it when the brakes were not working. I think I deliberately crashed it in the underground pedestrian tunnel going down slope and making a turn. The wheel was all banged up. I had to push the bike back home.
My affair with the bike effectively ended when I moved to New York. Bicycling is an acquired and non perishable skill. Maybe I will start biking again, minus the crazy stunts.