This morning I went for the first bike ride of the season. It was great! I felt like a kid again—the sweet spring air, the wind in my hair, coasting down hills, the freedom. Ah, the freedom.
When I was a young teenager, I rode my bicycle everywhere. It was my main mode of transportation. I’d ride all over town, to my friends’ houses, to the deli for a sandwich or candy, down to the bay for some solace. Being a teenager without a license (yet), I could get on my bike and just go. We didn’t wear helmets back then—they existed of course, but it wasn’t law to wear them. My friends and I would meet up, take off for destinations unknown, spend the entire day outdoors. It was a teenager’s dream, away from the parents and on our own. During summer vacation, I would leave mid-morning and not return until dinner time. Sometimes I’d go back out after dinner and my father would pick me and my bicycle up with his pickup truck. I can also remember, when visiting my grandmother, borrowing her 1950’s green Schwinn and riding it around her neighborhood as a means of spending time. Yeah, it was not a pretty piece, but it was functional.
Ahh, those were the days.
I remember my first bicycle. When I was very young, I started with a red tricycle. I then moved up to a two-wheel bike with training wheels and a glittery silver banana seat (much like the one pictured, but without the green S). I don’t remember who gave me the bike, but I remember my grandfather being there when I got it, and I’m pretty sure he was the one to help me learn to ride it. Eventually the training wheels came off and away I went. I then took over my sister’s bigger banana seated bicycle—this one was blue and white and the seat had Hawaiian type flowers on it. It sported a wicker basket on the handle bars too, perfect for Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Pound Puppies to take a spin with me. Then, I moved up to a red 10 speed. Today I have a mountain-bike looking thing, though it’s not meant for really mountainous terrain. (Please, I can’t come home from a 5 mile ride without huffing and puffing.)
Now I use my bicycle as a form of exercise and not so much as a mode of transportation. If I lived in a place that allowed for it, I’d ride my bicycle into town for some light shopping. But where I live, we only have a small grocery store. Every place we shop is the next town over and not conducive to riding your bike there unless you want to spend the entire morning getting there and fighting heavy traffic while doing so.
When the weather is good, my husband and I will get on the bikes and spend a good two hours riding around town, looking at houses, seeing what’s for sale, seeing what we like. (We currently live in a town house, so we often dream of one day buying a house with our very own yard. But the economy being the way it is, and the property taxes being as high as they are on Long Island, it doesn’t really pay for us to move right now.)
Riding one’s bike for exercise isn’t really the same thing as riding it as a mode of transportation. One can easily brush off the activity until another day, whereas when I was a teenager, I never thought about the exercise part of it. I simply hopped on and took off, enjoying my journey as much as getting to the destination. Now, while I enjoy the ride, I still look forward to getting back home and collapsing on the couch.
But it doesn’t really have to be that way. Maybe I can retrain my brain and look at the ride as a form of peace and serenity, enjoying the act as much as I did when I was young. Coming up to my 33rd birthday, my “youth” is behind me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my “maturity” and still act like a kid once in a while.
Just a note: I am in no way saying that I am old, or that anyone over 32 is. I’m merely saying that youth is a fleeting thing and even though we may all be getting older, you are only as old as you feel. So keep that youthful spirit alive, my friends!