As we moved up in primary school there was a subtle change in friendships as school friends and out of school friends began to merge.

Two things defined this change. One was Saturday morning cinema at the Odeon when you met your school friends on a weekend.

The other thing was learning to ride a bike. The old three-wheeler, which had originally belonged to my brother, was now consigned to the space under the outside steps which led up to the loft over the garage and warehouse in our back yard.

When I was eight my parents bought me a bike. Not a new bike but a secondhand two-wheeler. I didn’t care, it was mine.

The trouble is I couldn’t ride it without falling off. A tricycle is infinitely more stable but not the sort of transport for an eight-year-old seeking to explore Rhyl beyond the town centre.

My father came up with a plan. We would go up to the cycle track on the promenade on Sunday mornings. It was out of season so he didn’t have to open the shop and the track would be deserted.

Rhyl promenade cycle track in the season.

We wheeled my dark purple steed up to the track and Dad held on to the little rack behind the saddle while I mounted.

We must have gone round the track 10 times with Dad running along by my side firmly gripping the parcel rack keeping me upright.

It wasn’t until we were on the 11th circuit that I sensed he wasn’t there. I turned to look back, not a good idea for a learner because I fell off.

Dad came trotting up and helped me to my feet.

“You let go and I fell off.”

“No. I let go and you cycled half-way round the track while I stood and watched. You didn’t fall off until you realised I wasn’t there to hold you up.”

He was right.

I got the bike up, swung my leg over the crossbar and set off on my own. I did two circuits with ease before we headed home.

Dad took me to the cycle track twice more to let me practice and the following weekend I was allowed to cycle down the road on my own as far as the school and back.

By the time the summer holidays had started I was regularly cycling over to Roger’s on a Saturday and then we would head off on rambles down by the river and around the Marine Lake.

Our friendship had become much more than two little boys playing marbles in the school yard and then each going their own way when the school bell rang at the end of the day.

I think Pam had found a new playmate by now anyway.

Next time: Off to big school.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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