Let’s go ride a bike
In childhood, “Want to ride bikes?” is a question heard about as much as “Are we there yet?”
They are two extremely important questions.
I’ve always loved riding bikes, even that time I was booking on my tricycle down the street and hit a manhole. I remember being about 5 years old at the time, so a manhole on a tricycle had to be about as daunting as hitting a deep gnarly ravine while mountain biking.
At least that’s how I imagine it.
After the tricycle, once I successfully learned the magic of riding on two wheels, I rode bikes with my friends on a pink bike with Holly Hobby-like graphics. The bicycle had a white basket on the front and pink streamers coming off the handles. I rock and rolled on that first bike until I moved up to my favorite white 10-speed , one I rode into my teen years.
Driving a car soon followed.
In my 20s, I took up mountain biking, although I didn’t exactly live in the mountains. That later followed. But I did have a nice bike, and we rode it around the parks in Indiana. My friends and I even rode Gnaw Bone Camp down in Nashville in Brown County, considered technical for some.
I remember being the slowest of the group, always last in the line of bikers. I still have that tendency when doing about anything — hiking, running, getting out the door, etc.
They don’t call me Pokey for nothing.
The Gnaw Bone trails are located in a beautiful, hilly, southern part of the state. Surrounded by 1,560 acres, the camp features 25 miles of mostly nongroomed single-track and old fire roads my Grandpa likely set foot on when he was a fire chief down in Brown County. I remember a rope swing that catapults swimmers into a serene lake. The camp is like stepping back in time to the days of “Little Darlings” with Kristy Nichol and Tatum O’Neal.
Better than Camp Crystal Lake.
At the end of the trail, bikers ride through a near-tunnel of breathtaking pine trees so aromatic you’d think it was Christmas. Bikers can still ride Gnaw Bone when camp isn’t in session, aka June and July, with a small donation.
The best $3 ever spent.
My love affair with bikes was continued once I moved to Colorado, a place where bikes are as common as cars in mountain towns. I specifically wanted to live in Carbondale when I had a job there, knowing I would rarely drive and could get anywhere I desired on two wheels, just by the power of pedaling.
“Want to ride bikes?” is heard way more than “Are we there yet?”
This weekend, Carbondale’s cycling set is planning to ride against the possibility of fracking up Thompson Divide, a serene area on the Western Slope of Colorado that folks are trying to keep that way. Expect to see a convoy of bikes disguised as heavy equipment trucks coming from Two Rivers Park Friday afternoon to show the sheer volume of traffic such oil and gas drilling would bring to the area.
If that isn’t bike power, I don’t what is.
Pedal power doesn’t just happen in Colorado’s mountain towns. And it doesn’t have to be hardcore or make a statement. Biking can be as fun as it was when we were asking our friends if they want to ride around the old neighborhood. Millions of people ride bikes every day, and the number is growing. In Indiana, my 66-year-old mother is celebrating her birthday today with a brand-new comfort bike. She said she probably hasn’t been on a bicycle since high school. In case anyone wonders, riding a bike is just like riding a bike.
Once we learn, we remember.
I couldn’t be happier to see my dad buy my mom a new bike for her birthday. His thoughtful gift will bring her exercise and fun. Soon she’ll be asking me if I want to go ride bikes. And this time I won’t be pestering her with that age-old question, “Are we there yet?”
Because I will know we already are.
April E. Clark wishes her biking mother a very happy birthday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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