Remember when you you got your first bicycle? Remember the first time you realized you were riding alone, that your mom or dad had stopped pacing you ten feet back and you were honest-to-gosh doing it all by yourself? Remember the first time you rode without any hands? Flying down a hill, sure you were going to crash and die, but refusing to grab the handle bar because your hands feel too damn good in the air, so you scream at the top of your lungs instead?
I can’t remember when my bike lost its shine, when it stopped feeling glorious to hop on pedal for a few hours. I’m guessing it lost its appeal completely right about the time I got my driver’s license, but I suspect it the bloom started to fade before that. Somewhere between trying to look cool with my friends and stumbling down the road to becoming a grown up (okay, a teenager), I lost track of my bike. I let it sit until I just plain ol’ forgot about it.
Then this miraculous thing happened last year. I got on my bike again. There is a fabulous trail that starts about 1/4 mile from my house and one trip and I was high on bikes again. It could be that peddling makes your blood pump, and pumping blood equals endorphins and that’s never a bad thing. It could be the feel of the wind on my face on hot day. It could be the fabulous scenery and clear air you get on trails. Personally, I think it’s because it reminds me of riding around in endless circles in my neighboring churchyard when I was a kid.
We went on some pretty amazing rides last summer, doing up to forty miles per day. This year, however, riding has taken a back seat. Tara and I were busy opening a business during prime riding weather. And then my other riding partner had surgery on her foot, so no riding for her. We took a few minor rides early in th
e season, nothing over twenty miles.
This fall, however, I once again find my love of bicycles being redefined. Our youngest daughter started kindergarten this year and we’ve been riding her back and forth to school. Given the choice between taking the car, our bikes, or walking, she ALWAYS chooses her bike. We’ve also been using our bikes for quick trips to the store. Tara even went so far as to zip tie a milk crate onto the rack on the back of bike. Makes it much easier to bring home a gallon of milk, a box of cereal, and a carton of eggs. Some things just don’t work well in a backpack.
The especially cool part about it all these bike errands double as an opportunity to teach our children about alternative modes of transportation. Wyatt follows along to the store with his backpack, prepared to do his part and carry some groceries home. Earlier this week, he made the trip with Tara alone. In the past, it’s been me and him. He showed her the regular path, showed her where we lock up our bikes since there’s no formal bike rack, then showed her the quietest road to take home, complete with landmarks so she’ll be able to do it by herself next time, just in case, you know, he’s not there for whatever reason.
I love my bike. And I love my kids. And I really love that I can ride my bike with my kids. Next time your kids tell you they are bored, go hop on your bike and take them for a family ride. Quality bonding is inevitable. And you’ll be building memories that your children with cherish when they hit their forties and rediscover their love for their bike.