Just like other households, my family is also accessible to complete transportation means: small cars for long-distance travel, and electric bicycles for a short one. The mere difference is that I have an old bicycle that was purchased in the late 1980s. In addition to the tripod, the other parts have all been changed. The worn-out bicycle plays quite a significant role in my life: I can ride it to exercise, or to the riverside vegetable fields not far from the community to grow vegetables and the like.
In the past, bicycles were hard-to-get and must be supplied by ticket. Even a unit equipped with several bicycles would inspire envy, not to mention a private family.
After graduating from high school, I came to the Linchi Farm in Ningdu County of Jiangxi Province to work. At that time, farm workers were not allowed to possess a bicycle, and the only state-owned one was for the canteen administrator to buy vegetables or handle public affairs. Because there were few bicycles, most workers didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. Once the only bicycle was available, there was invariably someone to learn, during which the people behind protected the people in front, but the handlebars were always out of control, turning either left or right. Some even fell into the pond, creating a lot of jokes. In the era when bicycle was rare, transportation was very inconvenient. The farm was close to the headquarter, thus we could just walk there. Yet the forestry station was more than 20 miles away from the headquarter, we had to climb mountains and walk more than three hours.
After three years of farm work, I came to work in the office of the headquarter, during which I had to handle everything by myself, in addition to typing and drafting, sending documents as a correspondent. Fortunately, there was a squeaky, worn-out bicycle. Every time I sent the documents, my clothes were wet with perspiration, but I was satisfied for it was much better than walking. I remember a time when I had to rush to the county town 120 miles away out of an emergency. As the once-a-day shuttle bus had already departed in the morning, I had no choice but to ride my bicycle to there, on the sandy and mountainous road. In case of steep slope, I had to push the bicycle down. After the five-hour riding, I was squarely exhausted.
After the reform and opening-up, a rosin processing plant was built in the headquarter to produce rosin. To encourage rosin export, relevant departments decided to grant the bicycle quota based on export performance. The few tickets distributed a year down made us drool with envy. For fairness, the tickets were distributed to us by way of “lottery”. The bicycle quota increased year by year with the rising rosin production. Afterwards, with the decontrol of the market, in addition to famous brands of “Forever”, “Flying Pigeon” and “Phoenix”, some “miscellaneous” bicycles that could be bought without tickets also appeared, leading to popularization of bicycles. At that time, bicycles, watches and sewing machines were three major items for getting married, and bicycles were considered high-end goods.
As the reform proceeded, an easy-operated “Jialing” brand motorcycle emerged. Though expensive and fuel-consuming, this motorcycle was much better than the bicycle, thus the headquarter bought two. I just felt very comfortable when I first rode it. Unexpectedly, in case of a sharp turn, my calf touched the exhaust pipe, which was like a hot iron. As a result, I still have scars on my legs. Motorcycles were later improved, with stronger heat dissipation and greater convenience brought by scooters. Fuelled by growing motorcycle production, better quality, and people’s rising income, motorcycles have also popularized.
In recent years, the society has undergone profound changes, thus people’s lives are getting better and better. Specifically, in terms of highway construction, county-to-county highway has basically been realized, national and provincial highways bid farewell to sandy roads, being paved with asphalt or cement, and widened. In particular, cement roads are accessible to almost all the villages, and subgroups. From the perspective of transportation, motorcycles, electric bicycles, small cars and smart cars are all available. It is worth mentioning that private cars are no longer only for city residents, they are also widely popularized in rural areas. Even bicycles have become fashionable now, be it special ones for professional exercises, or shared bikes for close trips.
The old bicycle has been accompanying me for decades, recording not only my life, but the changes of the times. The continuous development and progress of the society has offered us greater confidence that as long as we unite and work hard, our life will destined to be happier.