I was sitting on the step of the garage yesterday afternoon putting my cycling shoes on to grab a ride on what might be the last warm day of the year when I looked up at the scene in front of me. Seven bikes, just in the garage. Three are mine, three are Maddy's and one is Gina's.
I love bikes, period. I remember getting the old Bike Nashbar catalog in the mail as a kid and just poring through endlessly at all of the stuff. It was better than the Sears or JC Penny catalogs that were 10 times as thick and full of toys. Problem is I never really got into cycling when I was younger, I played baseball and skated. Honestly, I could never really afford a nice road bike, at least anything even as nice as in the Nashbar catalogs and I thumbed my nose at the refurbed 10 speeds my dad would bring home from a buddy of his at work because they weren't nice enough.
I did however manage to take one of them out every once in a while, one occasion being a fundraising event for a classmate. It was a 36 mile loop from Middletown out to about where my parents live in Wolfesville and back. Some really hilly roads on a hot summer day. I had no clue what I was doing, not sure I even took water or wore a helmet. I rode in her place to raise money for a band trip or something, for me it was just an opportunity to ride a bike. Looking back, about the only other riding I would ever do on a 10spd would be from my grandparents house in Yellow Springs up Hamburg Rd. to the top of Gambrill State Park. Not exactly the easiest ride in the world, all I remember is paperboying it up the hill and being scared as hell riding back down, especially given the fact I never wore a helmet.
Since buying my first mountain and road bikes in college I've wasted no time or expense making up for all of those hours spent memorizing the Nashbar catalogs and hours not spent out riding a bike. Now I want to pass that on to Maddy and hopefully Leah. Maddy loves her bike, when she comes home from school she drops her bag in the garage, puts on her helmet and takes her bike for a spin around the driveway. She's about to turn 4 but has already learned to ride a pedal bike. It took her all of 30 minutes or less and happened while I was racing my bike. I took her and Leah to a race in Mt. Airy a few weeks back where a teammate brought her a hand me down 12" pedal bike. Up until then she only had a really small pedal bike with training wheels and her Strider which she has spent countless hours on all summer and races every weekend in the Lil' Belgians race.
As she quickly found out, the pedal bike was a lot heavier than the Strider and her first attempts to even sit on it upright let alone ride it were failures. Unfortunately, I had to go race and convinced her to put the bike aside and that we would work on it when we got home from the race. 45 minutes later as I pull up to the team tent after my race I look over to see her flying around the parking lot on the pedal bike, it was awesome. Apparently she wouldn't take no for an answer and convinced my teammate, Randy, to help her ride this bike.
Here she is at home when we got back from the race. She's wasted no time learning to go faster and already has her dismounts down. Now she just needs to get a bit stronger so she can pedal in the grass and figure out modulation of the coaster brake and she'll be set.