My lifetime love affair with the bicycle (in all its myriad forms) began at around 4 years old, I think. My memories of learning to ride, although not complete, exist in flashes of colour, sound and touch.
Gold coloured bike
Conspicuously missing training wheels (gulp)
Hand on my shoulder
Reassuring voice in my ear
Greenness of the hedge flashing by
Reassuring voice NOT so close to my ear
Stolen glimpse over my shoulder of a rapidly disappearing figure
Feel of the gravel driveway on my skin
Taste of salty tears
Arms around my shoulders
Bum on the seat, feet on the pedals
(Will you let go? I might!)
More green hedge
Straining to look forward and not backwards
Wind in my face
A recent Globe and Mail article by Susan Rawley included the quote:
“When I am on my bike, life couldn’t get any better. Just like when I was 12.”
Susan’s middle-aged cycling adventure began from a desire for fun. Those she meets on her bicycle often assume she is trying to get into shape, trying to deal with some health issue. In her words,
“If they only knew how much fun I am having, how young and free I feel, how vital, they would get on their bikes too.”
Bike riding seems to provide access to our inner 12 year old like no other activity out there. This young person within us does not care what she looks like, is not worried he will crash, adores the feel of the wind in her hair and is not afraid to get a little mud on his shorts or bugs in her teeth. In the past few months of semi-spring in Edmonton, AB I have noticed the following “12 year olds” around town:
A silver haired lady riding her “Oma bike” no handed across a footbridge.
A tattooed man on a BMX, also riding no handed, listening to his music and drumming along (with actual drumsticks).
A man in a business suit riding leisurely down a completely straight bike path carving slow turns side to side.
A woman heading to the University (student or prof, I have no idea…) riding an old school cruiser and wearing a very pretty dress to go with an even prettier smile.
I have no idea of the motivation behind each of these individual’s choices to go for a ride. Transport, fitness, health – doesn’t really matter. Each of them was quite obviously experiencing the inherent joy and freedom that comes surprisingly easy on a bike.
Joy flourishes. Two wheeled joy. Wanna go for a ride?