“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy
Like most youngsters, I treasured my childhood bicycles. Having a bike was a rite of passage for a child. Having a bike meant independence and freedom. It meant that Mom and Dad trusted you enough to let you wander…as far as the sidewalk .
I remember my first 2-wheeler bicycle. It was a 20 inch, silver and red Schwinn bicycle. With training wheels. It was the bike I learned to ride, it was the bike from which I explored our neighborhood, it was the bike that sent me to the ER for my first set of stitches! Oh, I loved that bike!
As time went by, I began to outgrown that trusty bike. Since my younger sister was ‘nipping at my heels’; my parents presented me with a new bike – a 24 inch pink and white Schwinn. With a basket. My younger sister got my red and silver friend. I wasn’t too sure about letting her have my bike, but Mom was a firm believer in passing things down the line. After a visit to the fair one year, our bicycles miraculously turned into horses. Occasionally we would convert to motorcycles using a clothes pin and a playing card stuck in the spokes. Cool sound. And always we rode our bike around the neighborhood.
Of course, I continued to grow, as most kids do, and the day came that I received my ‘grown up’ bike. A 26 inch, blue Schwinn. By that time, our family had moved to a house out in the country, so now there were dirt roads to explore, and exotic places to scout out.
When I went away to college, I needed a new bike once again. Since there were a few big hills around the college, I felt a geared bike was in order. But only 3 gears. I didn’t want to over do it. This bike was red, and not a Schwinn. And I never really enjoyed it. I kept it for years, but I never really made use of it. Finally I gave it away. I had figured out that the bike was too big for me.
There were other bikes throughout the years, 21 speed, mountain bikes, new bikes, second-hand bikes, but I never did experience the same thrill as a child riding my Schwinn. Why did I have so much trouble with bike riding? Painful shoulders, knees and seat. Not enough energy to make it up the hill. Fibromyalgia? Old age? I was ready to give it all up.
When Hubby and I moved to our apartment in Small Town, USA, I thought again about bicycles. My job was only 10 blocks away. If I had a bike that fit… So we began the search. We went to a real bike shop so the professionals could ‘fit’ me with the right bike. Nothing fit, and everything was too expensive. In frustration I told Hubby, “Forget it. I’m going to Wal-Mart and try out some kids’ bikes.” So we did. And I found out why I never enjoyed bike riding like I did as a kid. It was the bikes! The frames, the wheels, the height, the length, the seats, the gears, the brakes…they were all different from my childhood bikes.
So now, once again, I am the proud owner of a bike that I can ride all over town. Not a grown up bike, but one that fits me. No gears, no hand brakes, no painful seat. Just a plain old coaster brake – one speed – 24 inch- fat seat- purple bike from Wal-Mart. I love it!