By Benjamin Lyon
Shortly after walking many of us put the feet to the pedals, racing down the
neighbourhood sidewalks either on trikes or, yes, those famous plastic versions,
Big-wheels. They had that big front wheel and two small ones at the rear, both
plastic so the sound they made was a rhythmic scrapping as they awkwardly took
off down the streets, leaving the parents behind. Who remembers their first real
two wheeled bike? Those first days of learning, some one us used training wheels;
others, like myself had more of a trial and error experience. I learned on a
dark purple, classic framed mini-tank of a thing, my parents had picked up at a
garage sale. Its life was short lived though when, carelessly, I had left laying
under the back bumper of the car. Chevrolet turned it from a childís bike into
modern art. Sorry, I need to pause here, talking about it is like giving a
No other toy, game, school playground, roller blades or latest trend gave me
the memories or experiences that cycling has. There is the street races, stop
sign to stop sign, or just random accelerations past your friend, pushing each
other in the most innocent way, laughing. When the neighbourhoods had a garage
sale, it was the bike that got me through the crowds, allowing first dibs at the
best houses or it carried me to the corner store on allowance day. But times
changed and so did I.
As the years carried on the bikes I rode brought forth a lot of new
experiences. Friends and I would head up to a little junior sized BMX loop,
hitting each little roller or drop, comparing height, slurping a slushy and
getting any new clothes mom bought efficiently dirtied. Then we climb up a hill
at beside where the track sat and while helmet-less and with a with the reckless
mentality, only found in those less than 13 years old, barrelled down the hill,
full speed, considering the brakes some sort impediment to our developing
masculinity. The hill as most park areas nowadays was eventually built over by
the contagious spread of suburbia. By this point I was at another point of
change, but itís sad when you know that the next round of kids will be confined
to their Playstation and Cineplex, built on the grounds where children rode.
Like I said, things moved on, changed. No longer did I play hockey, or sign
up for little league, I skiied instead, game sports turned into individual
pursuits; rowing, running, hiking, and with change everywhere the enjoyment of
the bike still stood its ground, not to be given up.
From the BMX track, I turned to the forest trails, single track on fully
ridged bikes, just for the pure pleasure and freedom of riding; exploring,
feeling free, no curfews, no peer pressure, no chores, just a trail, and a bike.
The same trail I would run on, I biked, in a city park built along the length of
an old railroad system. Weaving in and out of trees and rocks, up and over logs,
even when the route was the same, the feeling was always unique.
Time, once again, brought more change. Running was now competitive with the
school cross country team, and my interest in fitness took hold, it ingrained
itself into the excitement of my sports. Some might see that as the fun losing
its simplicity, but for me it just gave it one more thing to enjoy, a
foundation. What used to be just a childís funhouse was now an ever expanding
castle of interest.
When youíre young, you tend to act as if the world revolves around you, that
everything is there for you, and any attempt to counter that view was
incomprehensible. But as I grow older, I no longer can look inward, because life
teaches you to look outward and forward. Itís in those early stages that life
hopefully teaches you to think beyond the boundaries set by past authority; to
ask the important and pivotal questions; to learn about yourself and about the
world you once thought was your kingdom to reign as that innocently, ignorant
eight year old.
Now I cycle much longer rides, which grow longer and more frequent, the
cranks continue to turn, but with far more grace and speed, pushing me faster
and faster each time, often dangerously so. So when as why I love cycling, the
only reason to come forward is that itís like a best friend and like old friends
I have had fights with my bikes, fights which have given me a concussion and
several scars and numerous near death experiences. My bike rides have showed me
more places and taught me more things than I can list; I have meet people though
my bikes; I have also found jobs with them and vacationed with them; and just as
friends do, it also has grown with me. The relationship now is far less innocent
and is taken less for granted; nonetheless, what remains is the knowing that
every time I cross a leg over the saddle and clip my shoes into the pedals, itís
going to be a fun time out, with a faithful friend. That is why I love cycling.