There’s a bike shop saying that goes like this. “Everyone rides for their own reasons.” It’s more than true. Who can’t remember those fledgling days of learning to ride as children? Red Bull gives us wings? I beg to differ. A bicycle gave us wings. It broadened our world to include far away places such as the corner store and the park. We had a new form of liberation. At least until the street lights came on. Didn’t those summer days seem to last forever?
As teens, bikes were our wheels. We formed social lives with them. Rode to each others houses. Went on two wheeled adventures together. Checked out the river, the woods, the neighborhoods on the other side of town. They allowed us to begin our first jobs, which brought us a new kind of freedom. Financial independence! A bike took the strain off of not affording a car. Ever been on a date via bike?
Into our twenties, many made the switch to the automobile, pushing bikes to the back of the garage. Plenty of us still weren’t ready for cars, or enjoyed the exercise component of cycling, and continued to commute by bicycle. This is where we earned hero status. “You ride your bike all year ’round?!” Or lunatic status. “You ride your bike all year ’round?!” We felt as if we belonged to a unique fraternity of people. Cyclists. Again, ever been on a date via bike?
Some of us really got into the exercise side of biking and started to train and compete against each other, furthering the hero and lunatic statuses. Many people became triathletes, who are a tougher brand of cyclist altogether, with hero and lunatic statuses cranked to the maximum. Our machines became expensive works of titanium, aluminum and carbon fiber. No matter, it’s what we did. It’s who we were.
Then there remains the bulk of us. For most, life got busy. Forty hour work weeks, children and mortgages. The activity that we once cherished in our past was set aside in favor of other pursuits. Children grew as did our waistlines. We morphed out of our lean, fit shapes into a more aerodynamic one, round. Interestingly enough, our bikes sat in the basement, retaining the original shape that they were manufactured in.
It doesn’t matter why you started riding a bike. It doesn’t matter why you stopped. The greatest thing about bicycling is that our bikes will be waiting for us when we decide to return to them. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter how old we become. The only thing that matters is the question “why not ride?”