On being ... back in the saddle
The subdivision I grew up in was called – believe it or not – Green Acres. (It was built long before the hit TV show of that name.) One of my favourite recollections of childhood was riding my bike all over Green Acres. My bike was a hand-me-down: a pink, girl’s Schwinn. It had one speed (unless you peddled really hard!) and to brake you simply peddled backwards.
I’ll never forget the first time I rode to my friend Donna’s house. She lived on a street that was not on my walk-to-school route, so finding it was a triumph of my navigation skills and stamina. After that success, I felt sure I could find my way anywhere in the world. (I know that sounds ridiculous, but at 11, Green Acres WAS the world!) Oh how I loved my bike and what it represented: the ability to explore.
Eventually I graduated to four wheels and I didn’t ride again until I was living in
When I took delivery of it, two things surprised me: it was red and it had more than one speed. Neither of these may strike you as noteworthy, but all the other bikes in
I thought I’d have a hard time adjusting to having more than one speed. I soon realized, however, that given
In the short time I had it, however, I did manage to take one memorable trip. I decided to cycle to
Of course, given of my lack of map, I didn’t realize how far
Though the afternoon didn’t end up being as fun as I hoped, I did come away with an important insight: I need to be in control (and going down a mountain on two wheels is not easy to do in a controlled manner). I also learned that riding the handbrakes down a steep hill is really hard on your forearms.
Of course, my mountain braking adventure wouldn’t have been complete without a little insult to go along with my aching forearms. At some point, a mountain ranger came up to me and asked if everything was ok. I assured him it was – I just wanted to take it slow. Turns out, that was going to be a problem because they wanted to close the hill for the day. I had two choices: either speed it up or take the next lift back down. All I can say is the view from a chair lift is even more breathtaking on the way down!
Five or six years ago I won a bike. I was tickled with the thought of having one, but the idea of riding it in a city of 2.5 million people (and who know how many cars) terrified me. So, it went straight into storage – I never even tried riding it. But, when I moved, I made sure the bike came with.
My condo is along the lake with direct access to the City’s extensive system of bike paths. Many friends who visited over the winter commented on how great it’ll be to ride around here. Sure, I thought – if I have the nerve.
Well, the weather finally warmed up this week so the time had come to try the bike. Only thing was, the tires were flat. So, a friend came over and helped me pump them up; then she dared me to get on. I was a bit nervous and a bit wobbly at first but the old adage proved true – you never forget how to ride.
That night I was still quite high from my ride to the club and I started getting excited about being back in the saddle again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to forgo my four-wheels for two. Hell, I’m not even sure I’ll ever be ready to get out on real roads on my bike. But I have to say, I’m excited by the fact that there are so many new paths to explore and by the fact that you’re never too old for new adventures.
© 2008 Ingrid Sapona