Riding bikes in the summer is a glorious activity. Growing up in Toledo, riding bikes is what I did all summer long. I got my first two-wheeler when I was 5. It was orange and I loved everything about it. I rode it around and around and around and around the block. It saved me from various scary neighborhood dogs and helped me achieve respect from several neighborhood boys who would let me play with them because my bike wasn't pink. I was a rider in the days before the helmet craze. If you were crashing, you were hurting. I was a rider in the days of the banana seat and the giant pole with a flag attached. I loved my bike.
One evening my mom and I went for a bike ride/walk to our neighborhood park. There was a baseball game going on and we saw some friends we knew. I had ditched my bike in the grass to play on the play equipment. After the game was over, the friends offered to take us in their car to get ice cream. My bike was forgotten as we piled into their car. The next morning, I went out to our garage and was confused at not seeing my bike parked in its usual spot. I ran inside yelling to my mom that my bike was stolen. She came out and was as perplexed as I was as to where my bike was. Then I remembered...I left it at the park! As fast as my little seven year old legs could carry me, I headed for the park. I can still remember the feeling of panic and fear of losing my bike and hoping it would still be there. I searched everywhere but it was gone. I walked home crying bitterly all the way. My precious bike! I had lost it! A few days later one of the boys in our neighborhood came over with his dad. He had seen my bike at another kid's house. Apparently that kid had taken my bike home from the baseball game and since it wasn't pink, he was keeping it. The boy and his dad went with my dad over to Bike Stealers house and retrieved my bike for me. I can remember sitting on the front porch dying with anticipation at being reunited with my bike. It was wonderful to have it back. We bought the neighborhood boy a toy for his reward for finding my bike for me. I never lost my bike again!
When I was 10, I graduated to a 10-speed bike. This bike and I were friends for a long time. We knew every uneven piece of pavement in the neighborhood that would send you flying when you hit it. We found the driveway that was really steep and fun to go sailing down. We spread our wings together riding to the library and Burger King and friends houses. Anna and I would go for bike rides after dinner. I remember how fun that was. I can remember the first time I let her ride her bike alone around our block. I'll never forget the panic I felt when she didn't return in what I thought was a reasonable time. I started running in the direction that she should come back from and pretty soon I could see her. There she was just happily riding unaware of the panic I was feeling. I stopped and composed myself so she wouldn't know how worried I was. She was so proud for riding all the way around the block all by herself.
I left that 10 speed at home when I left and I haven't had a bike of my own since even though I really long for one. The last experience I had on a bike was several years ago at Lifetime Fitness. I thought I would give one of the biking classes a try. Much to my surprise, those seats were painful! I couldn't stand it. I left the class before it started.
My children were all given bikes by their grandparents recently. Emily got hers a few summers ago and Christopher, Calvin and Spencer all got theirs this summer. Christopher and Calvin just on Monday. Yesterday they rode up and down our street and I sat in a lawn chair and watched them. They had so much fun and it brought back so many biking memories for me. Someday I hope we are in a situation where I can have a bike too and go with them. I don't know if I'll remember how, but it's riding a bike...you just don't forget.
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