Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Feeling Free: Tuesday's Reflection

It was green and white with a wire basket, and I got it for my ninth birthday. A new bike. My ticket to adventure and exploration and freedom. 

Those were the days when you could call out to your Mom, "See you later," and be gone for hours. Mom was probably grateful for the peace and quiet and didn't spend much, if any, time worrying about the possible dangers out there. You knew when you needed to be home and you knew where you were allowed to go, although sometimes you stretched those boundaries just a bit. Having a bike of your own was freedom, a kind of carefree release, an exercise in imagination.

My bike was a horse, a car, a means to some thing different and sometimes a way to get away from something. On my bike I was Nancy Drew and a cowgirl and a grown-up who wore tailored suits to her important job. I was 16 biking with friends or 20 going from class to class on a college campus or I was in my 30's biking behind my own little girl on her own first bike. I didn't imagine myself older than 35, for that was old enough. 

My family moved frequently when I was a kid, and my bike was not only how I explored the new neighborhood, but it was also how I filled in the friendless days till school started. I scouted houses where a potential friend might be living, pedaling slowly by if I caught a glimpse of a girl who looked my age. I noted the address and passed that way frequently. Hoping, always hoping. 

The summer we moved to Long Island I often biked a winding, woody road to the shore where Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War hero, had landed. I leaned against the large rock with the commemorative plaque about that event and day dreamed about not being so lonely. On a bike I thought I didn't look so lonely. For all anyone knew I was going to meet up with a gang of friends.

Time on my bike filled in the blanks for me. In a way it was my knight in shining armor who rescued me. 

Those were the years before biking became exercise and a competitive activity. Those were the days when biking belonged mainly to kids. Before the days when going biking meant an all-day trek of 10, 20, or 30 miles and involved wearing slick outfits reminiscent of a new species of bugs. That was long before a culture of biking was born. Those were the days of getting on your bike and waving good-bye as you headed down the block.

I hold those days gently in my heart. 

My birthday present this year is a brand new bike--a white, 7 gear Raleigh with a colorful basket on the front. And a helmet, of course. Sunday I went on my first brief ride--just over to our grandkids' house and back. I was a bit nervous, I admit, for I had not been on a bike for a long time. Emphasis on the LONG! I am not used to the gears yet, and I know this out of shape body is not ready for mile after mile along the Minnehaha Creek trails, but some of those same feelings I had as a nine year old returned. I felt free and easy. I felt unencumbered. I felt light and open. I felt ready for whatever I saw around the corner. It was a good feeling. 

An Invitation
When did you feel free and easy as a child? What might you do now as an adult, perhaps an older adult, to reacquaint yourself with those feelings. I would love to know. 


  1. Again, a lovely and meaningful entry, Nancy. And yes, it did reacquaint me with childhood feelings that I get when I don my bike. You captured the world we grew up in and the world we now live in with respect to biking so well. I sure wish you lived closer as I am trying to get more "into" biking this year. Wishing you many hours of joy and exploration!

    1. We can be "biking partners" even though we are not able to physically bike together.

  2. Ah, Nancy! how well you capture our blissful, functional, happy bike days of the 50s and 60s. Beautiful post! I join you in the happy memories with a new 7-speed wide-tire Electra Townie.
    Sandy Tuly

  3. Happy trails to you!!! Thanks for commenting.

  4. So true that we had the freedom that today's children can only imagine! What a loss. I had a bike I loved as well—red, with "balloon tires". Remember those? I used to ride on country roads with lots of ruts and wet patches. Wouldn't give up those memories for anything!

  5. Bikes seem to be one of those objects that elicits lots of memories. Thanks for yours.


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