Another very important memory of my youth which had a lasting impact on my love for the bike had nothing to do with me or anyone I knew actually riding a bike. In fact it happend while sitting in a seat in the balcony of the Senator Theater in Chico California. We were on a family vacation, visiting my oldest sister, her kids and my cousins in the summer of 1982 which just happened to be the year that E.T. was released. It was the first time that I had ever gone to the movies without adult supervision, my older cousin was in charge. It was a feeling of freedom and adventure that I had never known.
That added to the importance of this day, but it was a scene in the movie that really made this event special in my life. I wouldn't realize how important it was until later, but all I knew in that moment was that I wanted to go and ride my bike - badly. Of course I'm talking about the penultimate scene of the film where the boys and their friends have hatched a plan to get E.T. back to his ship and they set out on their Kuwahara BMX bikes to get him there. The scene ends with the very famous images of the boys riding their bikes into the sky as E.T. momentarily gives them the gift of flight and allows them to escape.
That is one of the most famous scenes in movie history. It helped E.T. go on to be one of the highest grossing films of all time. To this day the image of the silhouette of Elliot and E.T. flying over the trees is one that evokes great memories for millions of fans as the most important moment of the film... but not for me. For me it was the moments before they fly that caught my eye, and my imagination. The shot where the camera is rolling left in tandem with the bikes (1:18 in the embedded clip) as they jump down the graded embankments of the empty construction sites was a revelation. Those few seconds made me see riding a bike in a whole new light, and to this day, every time I see a construction site with those graded inclines cascading down a hillside, I think of that scene, of that day, of that moment and I want to ride my bike - badly.