Bite Size Memoir No. 9

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

July 6, 2014

Bite Size Memoir for Carrot RanchThe purpose of writing memoir in constraints (150 words or 10 “I Remember” statements) is so that anyone can commit  to documenting personal history one manageable bite at a time. Each week, Lisa Reiter, host and memoirist at “Sharing the Story” offers a prompt to facilitate each bite.

This week’s prompt is cycling. Ugh, bikes. Over the years I’ve seen a surge of enthusiasm for cycling and I’ve never understood it. Until today. Because I’ve been horse-smitten most of my life, I never got bit by the cycling bug. Yet, I see how both are similar. Both activities are outside in the fresh air, can be solitary or in a group, and as challenging as we wish to make it. These are experiences we can’t get from a car, public or mass transportation.

Cycling and riding horses is not about getting to a destination. It’s all about the ride. But I will always prefer riding horses over bikes.

Cycling: Not as Romantic as Riding Horses

By Charli Mills, USA

Riding my canary-yellow bike, I pretended it was a horse. It didn’t trot or gallop. I had to pedal furiously to get up the steep grades that led out of the small mountain town where I lived. Today, top-notch cyclists pedal these same roads and call it the “Death Ride.”

I wrecked a couple of times coasting down those grades, sliding tires in gravel accumulated alongside the shoulders. Tiny rocks embedded in my knees, causing me to dread road-rash. But there were no bike paths or trail bikes back then.

Whenever I got bucked off a horse, I thumped grassy ground, never pavement or gravel. Once, my horse dumped me in a creek. It was thrilling to cling to the saddle and if others were around, it roused much whooping and hollering.

Steep roads, bike crashes and pedaling endlessly curbed any childhood attachments to cycling. Horses still make me swoon.


What do you remember about cycling? Join in the Bite Size Memoir Cycling challenge with your own recollection.

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  1. lucciagray

    Oh dear! I’m afraid I didn’t cycle, or even have a bike. What am I going to write about?!?

    • Charli Mills

      Shoes! How about shoes are better than cycling or riding? 🙂

  2. TanGental

    Such a lovely post; such misguided sentiments. Horses are to be seen – at a safe distance. At one time the only thing that brought me close
    to the French, apart from my name, was their propensity to eat them. My non love affair with the honourable steed was consummated in the Caribbean when the Vet wanted to go riding, on a promise she could ride bare back in the waves. Swallowing my long held reluctance so as to be at my princess’ side I took her to the stables. She was given a beautiful grey called Blossom and fell in love. I waited while the Ganga smoking be- dreaded groom disappeared back into the gloom and returned with something even the Four horsemen might have baulked at. ‘What’s he called?’said I nervously. ‘Macho’ came the reply. Never have I been more grateful to stop a physical activity.
    I do get why you, and others, love them. I watched with open mouthed admiration the dressage athletes at the Olympics and you didn’t need to be an expert to understand the trust between the team of horse and rider. Even more so the delightful Sophie Christianson, the Paralympics champion and her mare. But really, even though I’ve fallen off countless bikes, never has one tried to bite me!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, what a grand image you’ve given me–your Princess riding bareback in the waves on a beauty named Blossom; you tearing up the sand and frightening away the Four horseman! Macho is an awesome name for a steed! Perhaps next spring I’ll get out to Miles City, Montana and help my cousin with the Bucking Horse Show. If I do, I’ll ask if I can name one of the baddest, Macho.

      It’s that partnership and trust that can be a beautiful thing. I was taught the fear of biting from a young age so I never let a horse nibble. Neither have I nibbled on horse meat but I’ve heard it makes good jerky. So that’s what the french hide beneath all those fancy sauces!

      • TanGental

        My mum always said it was pure rubbish about French coking being better than British; all it was, was that they couldn’t keep meat properly so had to hide the rot under fancy sauces! But then again she was staunchly British. And it was a French president disparaging our cuisine that won us the Olympics in 2012 for which I will be forever grateful!!

      • Charli Mills

        Somewhere a war wages in my DNA–one French grandmother got attached to the family tree!

  3. Morgan Dragonwillow

    When I was young if I had to choose between a bike and horse it would have been a horse hands down. But now… well you know that already, I love them from afar.

    • Charli Mills

      They keep the grass cropped and can make fine friends at the fence. It is possible to love them at a distance, yet. 🙂

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I’m afraid I’d choose neither horse or cycle as my steed. Give me a good pair of shoes any day. Lovely bite though Charli. You saying you were wrecked reminded me of my days in ICU when we had a nurse from Alabama start working with us. Giving us handover one morning she said “the man was in a wreck” and we had absolutely no understanding of what she was talking about. To us, in Australia, a wreck is a car that has seen better days. The subtle language differences are interesting yet understandable.

  5. Lisa Reiter

    I wouldn’t like to choose between a warm blooded creature and a bike but growing up, it was only the rather rich who could afford to keep horses, so not really an option for me as a ‘mode of transport’. I did ride regularly for a couple of years, on a small pony called Dobin – fat grumpy and spirited little thing who belonged to an older girl in my village. He seemed to know the worst spots to choose to throw me and I remember landing buttock down on the point of a frozen sod of clay. (No grassy meadows to canter through!) Bruised me really badly and laughed at me – as they do! Probably put me off for a good while. Later tales to tell but I might risk a horsey prompt later on – even if it excludes a few!! Lisa x

    • Charli Mills

      I understand! If it weren’t for being born into a poor buckaroo family, I wouldn’t have been able to afford a horse either. I worked for the local ranch from the age of 12 to pasture my horse with their herd. My tack was old–my father’s family actually made rawhide reins and my saddle was 125 years old. Not something the wealthy set would use! But it was a grand saddle! Cowboys are known to say that their saddle is worth more than the “dink” they ride. My father would never let me join the high school rodeo team or do cutting shows because my horse was an “embarrassment.” Even then, it was a wealthier crowd that could afford horses for sport. Horses are super-intelligent which makes them great partners, but they demand your constant attention to that partnership. The minute you look away–bam–you’re on the ground! And they do laugh at you, the haughty creatures! They also mirror your emotions, demanding you to be in zen-mode or they get flighty or aggressive. More demanding than a bike, I suppose! Sorry the sod wasn’t soft. 🙂

  6. Sherri

    Great memoir bite Charli. I have had so many falls from both bikes and horses. Sadly, the last fall I had on a horse put me right off, as I thought I’d broken my neck (I didn’t, obviously!) I love riding but I can’t jump to save me. Say no more! Funny isn’t it how so many of us associate bike riding with accidents – wrecks! – and gravel in our knee caps 😉

    Charli – I’m really sorry, but I won’t be making your flash fiction challenge this week. I had the idea and everything, but I did a guest blog post which was scheduled to go live today and I’ve spent the entire day keeping tabs on it and I just wasn’t able to get my post over to you in time. Now I’m making dinner and trying to catch up with everything else in between running errands all day…this is what happens when I leave everything to the last minute…I look forward to reading your compilation though and things will be calmer next week…*she says optimistically*. Really sorry though 🙁

    • Charli Mills

      See–I think people fall knees first off of bikes! But neck injuries are scary. My brother-in-law got thrown by his horse out checking fence on his ranch–which is huge. He not only got tangled in the barbed-wire, he also broke his neck. The hand riding with him had to leave him and ride his horse three miles to call for help (pre cell phone days). He’s so lucky–he still rides and runs his ranch today! I just love on my horses and do ground training (haltering,sacking, lunging).

      And as *optimistically* I’ll say that I’m home now and so happy to be home, looking forward to more focus…except, look, there’s the horses…and the pond… Now worries, the challenge is best met “regularly” which does not mean weekly or every time. Except for me. 🙂 So, I’d best get to that compilation, and I look forward to your flash when you’re not crushed for time!

      • Sherri

        Oh no, that’s awful for your brother in law, so glad he is okay and amazing he is still riding and running his ranch…phew!
        You clearly adore your horses…you are truly ‘home’ 🙂
        Thank you for understanding Charli, I just couldn’t meet the deadline and have yet to post what I should have done on Monday so I’m way behind…but, yet…your ‘futuristic’ prompt just won’t go away and you know what’s like when a writing voice won’t quit! So I might just have to write something and I’ll link to you when I do since you gave me the idea!
        Meanwhile, will get back to my other delayed posts and I look forward to your compilation and also next week’s prompt. Things should be back to relative normal next week…*she also says optimistically* 😉
        Have a great day 😀

      • Charli Mills

        He’s what I’d call a true buckaroo. I think it took longer for my husband’s sister to recover! It was frightening for her. Anyhow, my mind is working over the “schedule” that writers try to follow with work, process and inspiration that isn’t easily schedulable! You can always add one prompt to the next.

      • Sherri

        Love that…’true buckaroo’!! But yes, must have been absolutely awful for your sister in law…
        That’s a thought about the prompt…good to know that, thanks Charli!

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a good idea!

      • Sherri


  7. Ariel Bernstein

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to call myself a true suburban kid as I never mastered the art of riding a bike (for more than a few feet at least). Luckily most of my friend’s homes were in walking distance. Now it’s my turn to try and help my kids learn to ride and I definitely don’t mind the days they pass on the activity!

    • Charli Mills

      My kids spent their latter years in the suburbs and I think they biked more when we lived in more rural places! You can always get the kids a pony! 😉

  8. Norah

    Thanks for such an entertaining post Charli, and all the delightful comments it inspired. I rode a borrowed bicycle perhaps only once or twice. I didn’t get gravel in the knees, but it sounds so painful. I couldn’t even manage to ride an exercise bike. It wasn’t gravel, but my knees didn’t like it either!
    I was basically a city girl but sometimes visited my country cousins for holidays. I always looked forward to going for a ride on a horse. That finished for me when I was an early teen. I was to go for a ride on a gentle pony called Ice cream in the night paddock. No sooner had I one foot in the stirrup than it bolted back to the stables, dragging/carrying me along beside it. Oh dear! I’m not sure that I ever got on again. Probably should have, thinking about it now. But there were few opportunities after that anyway.

    • Charli Mills

      A naughty, barn-sour pony named Ice Cream! I’m glad you survived–that’s terrible to be dragged by the stirrup. Usually that’s a story a bronc rider gets to tell. I’ve seen it happen in rodeos and it’s scary to watch. We have a silly jingle in America that goes like this: “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” I imagine you all were screaming at Ice Cream that night! You need to just love on a horse from the ground. That’s what I do these days.

      • Norah

        That’s funny Charli. We have that silly rhyme here too – didn’t think about it in relation to the horse. What should I do on a horse from the ground? I do admire them. They are magnificent animals!

      • Charli Mills

        You can help a horse build trust by brushing, or lunge it for exercise. Lots of “ground work” with horses. Might help you build trust too. But you are definitely a cowgirl! You’ve earned your spurs!

      • Norah

        Thanks! 🙂

  9. Norah

    Great idea! and support! Thanks. 🙂

  10. Norah



  1. Bite Size Peloton | Lisa Reiter - Sharing the Story - […] Charli Mills – USA – Cycling: Not as Romantic as Riding Horses […]

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