Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the love of riding bicycles

"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and reedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard."
~Sloan Wilson

My love of riding bikes started when I was little, I have no clue how old I was, but 3 or 4 seems right. My Mom & Dad picked me up at my grandparents house. I don't even recall the time of year, I'm sure pictures might reveal this information. My Dad told me to go outside, where I saw my Mom standing there with a beautiful bicycle. It was all mine!

I remember it just like yesterday. White and pink with a little white basket with daisy flowers on it. It had a banana seat with a pink and white checked pattern. Those little white pedals were going to become a part of a wonderful new experience.

I don't ever remember using training wheels and my Dad said I never used them. I remember my first bike ride when Dad taught me. We lived on a dead end street so we had a good space to start. There was this big water tower across the street, that I always thought was a giant spider that as going to bite me and remember wanting to stay on the side of the road closest to the house.

No helmet and hair blowing lightly as my Dad stood beside me grinning. I look back now and assume the no helmet thing was common and there was less hectic traffic in the 70s. I don't even remember what he was wearing, I just remember his big-very big ear to ear grin as he held on the back of that seat. Holding tight he ran beside me, wobbled and stopped because I felt out of control. We did this a few times and I can almost hear my Dad saying something like, come on Ra-ra you can do it. Let's go. And I did, finally I took off pedaling and was off on my own. I probably only went a few feet the first time, but kept at it. I would ride down the street to the top of the hill, stop get off and turn my bike around and ride to the end of the street and do it all over again. Turning while on the bike came later. I'm thinking it had someting to do with the water tower/spider across the street.

I guess suddenly I got the courage up and decided to ride over the hill. Uh-oh might have been my thought as the speed I picked up was a little faster than I had been riding back and forth on the flat ground. Slide, crash bang is about how the minutes later played out. I hit a group of those old school big metal trash cans. I had bruises already showing up and scrapes all over the place. My Dad ran down the hill to help carry me and my bike back up to the house. I remeber he told me something about how I did good and way to go Ra-ra, you were doing really good. I got bandaged up and I was ready to go again.

I'm not sure if I went right back out to ride that same day, but the delightful feeling of wind blowing across my face has never left me even with all the scrapes and bruises I've earned.

There is something liberating about riding a bike. I rode all over the place on my pink and white bike, which was around the house and on the street in front of the house, I would fill my little white basket with all sorts of rocks, plants, and treasures du jour. As I got older my little white basket came off and I started to zoom around on my little white and pink bike. I tried ridng off curbs, ramps and was stopped one time trying to ride off our station wagon. Thank God, that would've been an ER visit for sure! The white basket with the multicolored daisies moved on to be strapped to my grandmothers walker, aiding her to carry things from point A to point B. My pink and white bike went to my little sister when she got old enough to ride and I upgraded to a sparkly royal blue ten-speed.

That ten-speed helped carry me from point A to point B. More on those years later.

The love of bicycles grew over the years along with the love between Dad and I. I think that is exactly why a 45 mile Livestrong ride fits perfect. He gave me a gift many-many years ago when I learned to ride a bike. Now I can use that gift and a bike to help make a difference.

Thanks Dad!

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