Fire and electricity; the computer chip, the printing press, sliced bread…all wonderful discoveries and inventions. But oh, the wheel!
I do share the American’s love affair with the car, but first, there was the bicycle. My first bike was orange, a hand-me-down from one of my sisters. There were training wheels at first, but I kept falling down. Once my father took them off, I had no problems. We’d ride around the driveway, around the house, to our friends’ houses, and to the lake where we would swim all day long, and then slowly pedal our way back home.
That orange bike was the first one that I crashed, down in the woods behind our house. I was coming down the trail and my foot slipped off the pedals. Since the brakes were engaged by pushing back on the right pedal, this meant that I essentially had no brakes unless I could regain my footing. I didn’t. Luckily a nice tree was able to stop my forward progress before the grade got any steeper.
I inherited different bikes as I grew up, but didn’t have my very own, brand-new bike until college. I bought a red 10-speed for myself when could no longer stand dealing with the impossible parking in the commuter lot or walking in the unbearable heat and humidity of north central Florida. I loved being able to create a cool breeze on my face, even if the weather didn’t see fit to provide me with that breeze.
These days, biking is a chance for me to get out of the house and feel that breeze again, the temporary freedom of speeding through the woods on those two wheels.
For others, a bike is just part of their daily routine…
…or perhaps a day excursion to a museum…
…and for still others, it’s a chariot in repose.
When was the last time you went out to ride bikes?