Memorial Day Memory

28 May



Memorial Day weekend always brings to mind my re-introduction to bicycling.

Like most everyone else, I practically lived on a bike during my childhood and even teen years.  When I wasn’t on a bike I was on roller-skates.  Seriously, I walked very little before high school.

When I was in college, not owning a car, I biked to campus and work.  Biking actually wasn’t that prevalent when I was in college (the 70’s), not like it is today.

Once adulthood set in – parenthood and full-time work – I put away my bike.  For exercise I ran some, played a little tennis but rarely considered biking – and I’m not sure why.

Then one Memorial Day weekend my then 10 year old daughter said, “Mom, let’s ride bikes to my school”.  Her school was 7 miles away – and partly over dirt and gravel roads – but it sounded fun so I said “sure”!

I remember I packed for that first bike ride like I would pack now for an all day ride – snacks, lunch and water – and we set off.  I rode my old Sears Free Spirit bike, the same bike I had in college.  The old 10speed-drop-handlebar-skinny-tire bike that wasn’t really meant to be ridden on gravel, but we took our time and made it to the school. 

Like kids do, once we got there and had our lunch my daughter was ready to ride  home.  I, on the other hand, was not.  I stalled, like any mother worth her salt, until I was rested and fairly confident I could make it back.

Although I was only 35 years old at the time – as you’ll read later, I thought 35 was pretty old – the way people in their 20’s and 30’s do until they get to their mid-40’s and beyond.

I also wasn’t doing any kind of cardio exercise on a regular basis – plus, I’m ashamed to admit – I smoked – so those 7 miles and the thought of the 7 to get back – taxed me to say the least.

After a hour or so we got back on our bikes and headed home.  We both felt a sense of accomplishment and pride – after we were home – at how we had ridden our bikes 14 miles!

Unfortunately I didn’t get back to riding or any other form of regular exercise after that.  But lo and behold, the next Memorial Day weekend when I was even older – 36! – my daughter gets up and says excitedly, “It’s our annual ride our bikes to school day”! 

I had completely forgotten about the previous year’s trek, but of course she had not.  My response to her:  “I’m almost 37 years old – I’m too old to ride a bike that far!”

The rest as they say is history.

The first time I rode my bike on Free Wheel, the weeklong bike ride across Oklahoma, (in my early 40’s) – and all the other years I rode it – she reminded me of my “I’m too old” whine; the time I rode the MS 150 – 150 miles in 2 days – she reminded me – and each and every time she did, we had a good laugh!

And I learned that you’re never too old to begin again, and that in many ways I’m younger now than I was then.

The following September, for my birthday I got a Schwinn hybrid to ride around the neighborhood – and any future treks to schools or wherever with my daughter.

That bike is the bike that as an adult, I fell in love with cycling.  I couldn’t get enough of riding – and still can’t.

In many ways I owe it to my daughter Jessica, and that first “bike tour” to her school – thank you Jessica!  We’ve had many laughs over the years about my “I’m too old to ride almost 15 miles” statement!

Since that inaugural ride, I’ve logged thousands of miles on one bike or another – and every Memorial Day weekend I go for some sort of ride, or two or three.
And, I always think back on that first ride 20-something years ago this weekend and smile, and I still feel a sense of accomplishment and pride that I’m still at it and still love it. 

That’s my story. What’s yours; what got you (back) on the bike?

*Image is not the property of All For the Love of Bikes, but is shared here. Creator of image is unknown..

**Edited 5/26/2013


9 Responses to “Memorial Day Memory”

  1. Tim K June 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    I love the story and I love the image. Can you tell me where it comes from?

  2. Susan June 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Tim, Thank you for the complement, the story is mine, the image is not. I’m usually good about noting the actual photographer or creator of an image but I neglected to do that on this one and now I can’t find the website where I got it. I’m still looking and will hopefully find it soon. I agree, I love the picture, very creative and beautiful.

  3. Lori V June 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    I love this story. I remember when I rediscovered bicycling when I was in my 20s. I had a no speed bike and within a year I did a 425 mile ride across the Rocky Mtns., and later a solo trip across the state of WA, and ultimately a long trek from WI to NC. I keep rediscoverying the joy of cycling as I really did not ride much til my son got old enough and now am just beginning to train for an AIDS benefit ride. There is something so incredible about one’s legs taking them such long distances up and down hills and a long city streets and countrysides. 🙂 And, for the record, I am now 47 and have no reason to stop cycling, ever!!!

    • Susan June 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Great story Lori, you’ve done some very impressive things on the bike! I would love to do a long trek across several states – some day.

      Thanks for sharing your story here.

  4. brian June 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    no matter how many cars we go thru or how much our lives change those bikes are always there, rivaling a dog in loyalty.

  5. Kim May 28, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I biked for transportation in my teens, but like many others abandoned my bicycle for a car when that was an option. I’m now realizing that going from my trusty Raleigh to a Pontiac Sunbird wasn’t the step up I thought it was. My friend Katy got me back into cycling in 1999 – 237 miles of pure bliss.

    Susan, I just finished Pedaler’s for another year and it was awesome. At first I was thinking it was going to be my final Pedaler’s because it has grown to be a pretty huge ride. I quickly changed my mindset to one of seeing the beauty in that many people enjoying music and being outside on a bicycle. Life is indeed good:) Happy Memorial Day!

    • Susan May 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Kim! Funny how the older we get (sometimes) the more we turn to the simpler ways of doing things – bike vs car.

      We are going to have to ride the Pedaler’s Jamboree one year. Sometimes that’s just what we have to do, get into the right frame of mind to go with a situation rather than against it. I wish it was easier! Being on a bike helps it though doesn’t it. 🙂

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