My Grandpa Hank loved to ride bike. He often took us grandkids for bike rides in his basket. I remember going to the farm to learn how to ride bike. We never got training wheels. We just would ride on the flat part of the lawn, fall over a few times and figure it out. I remember my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Doug supporting me on both sides and then giving me a big push. I must have been around 5 or 6. I lived in Columbus, WI and in those days (mid 70s) kids rode their bikes to school in droves. I went to school at Dickinson school and there would be many bikes parked outside of the school. I attended Dickinson for kindergarten to third grade and I remember riding bike across town by myself or with my younger sister, Debbie. A bike gave me such freedom to explore and get places. I would ride to the Fireman’s park and stop at the Library. We often went upstairs in the city government building and explored the old theater. I lived in a trailer court (yes, I was a trailer park brat!) and we would ride around on our bikes for hours, playing cops & robbers. My best friend, Janey (I have had two best friends in my life named Janey; this was my first one from age 5-10) lived in the trailer park for many years but then she moved across town and I would get on my bike and visit her. This was before kids were cautioned to stay inside; back before Adam Walsh was abducted. Society changed when we realized there were “bad guys” out there. Those days were so adventuresome and exciting but also so innocent. I got my first bike for my 6th birthday. I was so disappointed when I went onto fourth grade because I was bused to Hampden School out in the country and I couldn’t ride bike anymore to school. Summers on the farm, we would ride around the “block” a stretch of highway that looped around the neighborhood and take us a few miles. Grandpa Hank would often go for bike rides in the evening as well.
When I turned 10, my parents moved to Cazenovia, WI and we lived out in the country. I was so disappointed that it was difficult to ride bike places. My new best friend Traci lived about 5 miles away and in the summer I would ride over to her place. All of this changed once I got my driver’s license. The distances in the country were so much easier to navigate by car. I didn’t ride bike very much at all in my 20s, 30s and finally got a new bike at age 42. Getting on a bike now gives me the same great feelings it did when I was a kid. I love exploring a new city from a bike. I enjoy the health benefits of riding bikes. But I really love the connection with nature and how my mind ‘clears’ and my spirit gets rejuvenated. As I come to learn the benefits of bike riding; to our communities, to our planet and to our future generations, I am convinced that transportation by bike will be very instrumental piece of the puzzle.
I long for our children to have the ability to safely commute to school via bike again. I believe bike riding and walking are important activities to encourage to deal with the ever growing obesity rates in this nation. I think we forgot somewhere along the way the joy of riding a bike. As a concerned citizen for our environment; the benefits of replacing car trips with bike trips can really impact our planet; more than energy efficient light bulbs. I personally intend for myself to never own another car in my lifetime. I believe in families cutting back on the number of vehicles they own as well. I recognize the need for a car in this vast country we live in but I desire to move to an urban environment and utilize public transportation as much as possible. Marty and I love riding bikes while exploring new cities. We love using bike share in cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and other places we visit. Riding bike has also jump started my personal goal of being healthy into my middle and late years. It’s a great activity that Marty and I are able to do together and we really enjoy being able to talk to each other while riding.
I encourage others to get in touch with thier inner child again and get on a bike. It’s as easy as.. riding a bike! Honestly, you don’t forget how! Bike riding requires very little physical ability. Despite what you may think, spandex wear is not a requirement! This new year, I have resolved to ride bike in more places, in different ways (give mountain biking a try) and in every month. I went back and added up some figures from my app; MapMyFitness and in 2012 I rode my bike 81 miles in the first year I got the bike; 321 miles in 2013 and I rode 432 miles in 2014. I rode those 432 miles in only 9 months. I plan to ride every month this next year and I have a goal of reaching 700 miles in 2015. I have ridden in Washington DC, Chicago, Omaha, Madison, Cincinati, Columbus, Tulsa, Little Rock, Milwaukee, and Nashville. I plan to ride this next year in Corpus Christie, Portland, Miami, Oklahoma City, Spokane, Indianapolis, Hilton Head, Charlotte, Savannah, Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Asheville, Boise, Minneapolis, New York, Austin and Boston. The longest ride I have done so far is 35 miles. I would like to do over 50 in a day.
What fond memories do you have from learning to ride a bike? Did you ride a bike to school growing up? Do you ride bike now? I want to encourage all my readers to consider your fitness goals for this next year and plan to ride more! Get rolling!