There was a time when I felt like I lived on my bicycle. I rode it everywhere I went, did stunts on it – like jumping over earthen ramps in the vacant lot across from my house and riding without holding on to the handlebars – and hauled bulky things from one house to another, all the while keeping my balance and peddling effortlessly. I spent so much time in the saddle of my bike that I felt it became an extension of myself. I never really had to think about balance or turning radius or stopping distance. I simply rode.
Getting to that point was a long, laborious process. I just couldn’t “get it.” My poor Dad spent long hours running me up and down the street in front of our house, only to have me coast, screaming at the top of my lungs, and crash into a skinned up heap when the bike lost momentum. Multiple ear infections had left me with dubious balance. Eventually I mastered riding the bike, but a couple years after most of my friends did.
We had an old beater bike in our basement and one winter afternoon I decided to try it out. All of the components suddenly came together and I could ride! I was gifted with a brand new one speed cruiser-style bicycle on my next birthday and that became my transportation until I learned how to drive a car.
It wasn’t until my children were teenagers that I even considered riding a bicycle again. I bought a simple three-speed cruiser-style bicycle with a coaster brake at the local Kmart. It isn’t fancy, but it works.
We took our bikes on numerous vacations and did family rides around neighborhoods, campgrounds, bike trails, and beach boardwalks. But life and vacations changed as our children grew up, got jobs, and their own cars.
My old bicycle sat unused for years. We took it to Mackinaw Island for a week-long condo stay and rode all over the island, but vacations end and life intrudes on recreation time. My old bike sat in the barn for over ten years, untouched and unridden.
Until this summer! We dusted off our bikes, did some minor repairs, and hit the Kiwanis Trail, a bike trail that follows a deserted railroad track. No cars to dodge and perfect summer weather made for an incredible ride.
We logged 5 miles on the trail for our first ride in over a decade! I am not a long-distance rider by any stretch of the imagination, but felt like a kid again as I sailed down the trail! It doesn’t quite feel like an extension of my body yet, and I am far more aware of falling and breaking bones than I was as a child, but I am glad that the old adage of never forgetting how to ride a bike is true. I am delighted to be back in the saddle again!