It’s just a really fun song to sing! First, it’s always fun to sing like Freddie Mercury. Second, it’s just a great little tune about riding your bike. When I was thinking about what to say about it, my first thought was about how simple and sweet it is. The narrator just wants to ride his bicycle, not concern himself with Vietnam, Watergate, or even Jaws! He seems to be longing for the uncomplicated and undemanding days of childhood. So yes, the topic of this song is very simple. But then I considered the song’s structure, both musical and vocal, and realized that it’s a typical Queen song that defies expectation and conventional rock and roll sounds. And of course, this is why we love Queen so very much. They did whatever they wanted to do, aiming to please only themselves and just having a grand old time with their impressive talents.
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
When you were a kid, riding your bike was probably your first taste of freedom because you didn’t need your parents to drive you somewhere. Also, you could move faster than if you were running. So it reminds me of childhood and summer, even though I didn’t know this song when I was a kid. But I sure as hell loved riding my bike! My sisters and I mostly rode our bikes in the driveway, but we would make up routes we needed to take to get to imaginary places.
My middle sister and I invented our own country with its own language, probably because our parents never taught us to speak Serbian and we felt awkward about that when we were in Serbian settings. So having our own language made us feel better about things, and it occupied us for many, many hours. We took so many bicycle trips around the driveway to get to Hunga Munga! Sometimes we would have to take the pete (that’s what we Hunga Mungans called the train, which was actually a spot behind our garage) to get to farther distances across the country.
We also used to play Smokey and the Bandit on our bikes. My sister would usually be Smokey, and I’d be the Bandit, my bike serving as the Trans Am if on its own, or Cledus if my little red wagon was hooked up to my bike so it would look like a truck. My uncle was a truck driver, so I was always fascinated with trucks and CB culture—The Dukes of Hazzard and B.J. and the Bear were two of my favorite shows! We’d have “car” chases all summer long. Remember when kids played outside all the time? Sure, we had an Atari and MTV, but we really just wanted to use our imaginations and be outside as long as possible.
Freddie Mercury wrote this song while watching the Tour de France pass by his hotel. Thank God he did, because before I wrote this it had been a while since I thought about all the great times my sisters and I had on our bikes when we were little. Once again, here’s an excellent example of how music can spark great memories, whether that particular song was specifically part of those memories or not. I love remembering my childhood! And I do feel bad for kids growing up these days who will never experience the things I did. I would have loved the instant access to music, movies, TV, and books kids have today. But I am very glad that I grew up when I did, because I truly feel that imagination was much more valued and encouraged. We made up our own games, sometimes based on TV or movies, played dress-up with old clothes (we had a game called Tacky where we’d try to put together the most hideous outfit!), used Time-Life do-it-yourself books to try to build our own kids annex in the backyard. I mean, we really had no limits to what we thought we could do!
Thank you, Queen, for crystalizing what was so great about my childhood!