While I understand that adult brains probably romanticize a lot of our childhood memories, I have some pretty terrific fuzzy feelings about the years my family spent in our house on Pheasant Way. It was pretty much everything a kid could want in a house-a swimming pool, good climbing trees, a TIRE SWING, a garden, not one but two wooded areas perfect for fort building, a little stream in the backyard and a big, safe neighborhood we were allowed to run around in as much we wanted. And it was one of those great old neighborhoods with reasonably sized houses that didn't all look the same, shortcuts from one street to another, plenty of places to hide if the boys decided to chase us and a creepy dirt road that we were sure led to a crazy old farmer who hated kids (that rumor was never confirmed nor denied). I remember long, glorious summers playing outside as long as we possibly could and exploring every inch of that area. And of course, the key to summer freedom as a tween is-a bike! We. Loved. Our. Bikes. We liked to wash them, "work" on them (which consisted of turning them upside down and putting a little WD40 on the chain under Dad's supervision), do tricks in the long driveway. But mostly, we loved to ride them wherever the heck we wanted to go. A bike was a ticket to independence, a kind of "be home before dark" luxurious freedom I don't know if kids really get anymore.
And then high school came and it was more about cars than bikes and I have no idea what happened to my old banana seat cruiser that I loved so much.
I bought another bike when I moved to Huntington Beach and got that same feeling I had as a kid everytime we hopped on them to go down to the pier for ice cream or taco tuesday.
So I always knew I liked bikes. I bought a real live road bike when I lived in Boston but winters and traffic and frankly, being too miserable, kind of kept me from really riding much. My bike fanatic friend Matt took me out the weekend before I moved on a gorgeous ride that made me a little sad I hadn't gone more. He was pretty sure I'd find a person or two to ride with in Colorado.
The last year I've been lucky enough to find more than one or two people to ride with but my very favorite riding partner has been my coworker Todd. He was a National Team Freestyle Skier for Canada and then when he retired from competing, he took up cycling. He studied Kinesiology in college, coached for a long time, and is a certified trainer. And for whatever reason, he's decided that I'm a cause worth taking up. He started hassling me to come out on lunch rides with him when he heard I had a bike and after the first one, I was pretty well hooked. We get out at least once a week and now the that the weather is cooperating a little more, we're trying to step that up signifigantly.
After all of these years of running and spending time in the gym and always feeling like I want to be healthy but I'm just not an athlete, it has been SO FUN to find a sport that is more fun than work. Don't get me wrong, this town is nothing but hills and they are hard and everytime Todd yells, "one minute at full sprint, GO," I kind of want to punch him. But then we're flying downhill and there are three or four of outside on a perfect day when most people are eating at their desks and I feel exactly like I did when I was 11.
The bike is totally a ticket to freedom.