I always believed in bicycles. It seems that we can never forget our first bike riding experience, or the first bike we ever owned as a child. I remember when my parents bought me my first one. I remember the smell of fresh red paint that glistened and sparkled in the first weeks of summer, and the silver streamers on the handle bars that looked like tinsel from last year’s Christmas tree.
We never seem to forget that moment when the training wheels finally come off, and we learn to balance for the first time in our lives. I believed in my parents’ surprised faces when they knew their only son had finally achieved that balance; that balance in which we all find that center strength of self-recognition and gratitude in ourselves. When I look back at that memory, I knew that that first push down that open road before me was a lesson learned. For the first time in my life the possibilities of destinations and great distances came alive, and as a child balancing on that first bike was more of an endless thought of new possibilities.
Going back, still further into the past, I wonder if the hills we made with mud and dirt when we were young still exist today, and if they do, who is riding those rocky roads of imagination? The kid in me looks back, and remembers the horizons of beautiful sunsets and the mist of winter dew that sprayed my face when I trod through my neighbor’s yards.
I remembered my friends and their clumps of muddy hair, and the sounds of birds and laughter. I believe in good memories and the fields where we once stood and built mounds and mounds of bike jumps, and I believed in the cardboard airplane wings that were taped to each side of my bicycle frame. I believed in all those cuts and bruises and all the bicycle wrecks, and I still remember the time we carried my friend to his house when he had broken his wrist for the first time. I believed in that look in his eye when he told me that ‘it was all worth it’.
Today I still believe in bicycling. The geography of nature is still my open road. I will always have that sense of nostalgia when I get on a bicycle, and just like the wheels that once touched a part of my younger life, my journeys and expeditions when I ride today still lie in destinations where rustled leaves catch my spokes, and acorns fall and spread in all directions. I can still feel the warmth of tread that I have left in those memorial tracks that I once made. And like those paths, I set examples for the next pioneer.
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