Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Get on your bikes and ride!

My in-laws got me a bike for my 38th (oh the horror, the HORROR) birthday. It's a snow white Schwinn with a bell that I like to ring as I'm entering or leaving our driveway, because it drives the neighbors' dogs -- Mckenzie and Nina -- absolutely nuts. With my helmet firmly in place and my glasses ever so slightly fogged, I am the absolutely picture of suburban uncoolness. But I don't care, I'm having a blast.

I always loved riding my bike as a kid. Well, except for when I was learning to ride. Learning to ride a bike ranks right up there with being thrown in the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim as one of the more terrifying rites of passage. I think I was 7 or 8 when I finally got brave enough to learn, when even my little sister was taking spins around the yard. My dad patiently held onto my wobbling Huffy (yellow, with white daisies) as I whined, "I can't do it!" He said I could. Then he let go. For a moment I had a rush of euphoria, this is what freedom feels like! Then I crashed headlong into the thorniest rose bush in the yard.

As my mother sighed and pulled the thorns out of my scrawny arms, my dad popped his head in the door of the bathroom to say, "You know, that bike has brakes on it." I was a bit chastened, but I remembered that rush, that feeling of independence. So of course I got back on the bike (a few days later, after all the bleeding holes had healed a bit) and proceeded to ride all over our vast country neighborhood for the next several years. Until I got a much cooler vehicle, a car.

At 38 (oh the horror, the HORROR), I had almost forgotten what it was like to ride a bike. And yes, it does come back to you like... well, you know. The pedals clicking away, the air rushing past, the neighborhood dogs in a frenzy, it is all so exhilarating. I rode just this morning, this gorgeous spring weather beckoning me outside. As I wheezed up a hill -- trying valiantly not to be passed by my elderly neighbor out walking his asthmatic pug -- I felt decrepit in body, but young in mind and spirit.