Thursday, March 01, 2007

(for Writing Mamas daily blog -- sorry no pix available right now)

Someone stole my boy’s bike. A new neighbor left our shared garage open and now, sadly, they’ve learned it must be kept closed.

But the bike! I bought it at a consignment shop for $20 when Dane was 2 – the future rider that he’d become, just a pedaling speck in my mind.

It turned out, too, that I’d picked a good one – and not just because it had dinosaurs on it. My husband tells me it also had solid components.

That bike inspired a 5 year-old’s rite of passage last year, and we embraced a new independence as he broke new ground – sometimes literally – without training wheels.

All summer long, we rode bikes, first in endless circles around our playground; then, to the beach in Sausalito and along the Bay Trail between Marin City and Mill Valley.

We put in about 15 miles a week on that bike –– Dane zig zagging along the Bay Trail and me easing my own bike behind him, his 4-year-old sister pedaling behind me on the trail-a-bike attached to mine.

At first, Dane’s zig zags made my hair stand on end as serious cyclists zoomed by. Eventually, though, he got the hang of using the right side of the trail, and I’d watch him more calmly from behind, his little legs spinning furiously.

Soon he was off-road on the sloping sandy edges, broken cement paths, and tall grass lining the bay. He’d stand up and test his tires in the sand, or point—first with a nod, and later, with a daring hand—to the great white heron or the snowy egret at water’s edge.

Come August, he even advanced to the hilly 5-mile perimeter of Angel Island, working in 100 degree weather with the determination of a yellow jersey rider on the Tour de France.

Now we ride to school a few times a week, and not many students do this regularly. So, when he pulls his helmet off, his hair sweaty and sticking up, his fellow kindergarteners are incredulous, “You rode again today, Dane?” And he smiles shyly with a proud sense of himself.

But riding isn’t about the attention; Dane just loves what it feels like. When his sister says, “Let’s go feel the wind on our arms,” we all know what she means.

Let’s just get out and move ourselves along. Let’s pick warm blackberries in September and brush the rain off our faces in January. Let’s gasp for air after pedaling up steep hills, or soak our socks with water while speeding through puddles. Let’s have an adventure.

And that’s what that bike represented: a little boy gaining a sense of himself and a sense of adventure, powered by his own two legs.

Fortunately, when Dane’s bike was stolen, a friend loaned us an extra one, so we’re still riding. But, right now as I think about it, that’s not the point, neither is the fact that it was stolen – that’s a separate lesson.

The point is: That bike marked the beginning of a journey. I knew the bike wouldn’t last forever, and that Dane would eventually need a bigger one, and probably want to trade in his dinosaur decals for flames, and that one day his rides wouldn’t include me – but that bike marked just the beginning, and provided the vehicle for me to witness it.

Boy, I’ll miss that bike.

Or, maybe what I really mean is: Bike, I’ll miss that boy.


bigshare said...

The piece really allows me to picture each the event...feel the emotion of each...relate to "wind on my arms". See the happy faces peddaling on the paths. I'm ready to join you all on a little spin.
Love, Mom
Keep it up, Anj.

Jan & Mike said...

Just printed a copy of ABOUT A BIKE to share with Edna next week. Shari and Jim are on a 2 week vacation. She's at a retirement facility in Olympia. Twice last week I brought the morning crossword puzzle and sudoku challenge and lunched and laughed with her. Next week I'll take some of your writings for her to enjoy and comment on. Comments I'll share with you when in CA.
I also commented on this blog and see it, too, didn't travel across space to your place. ???
Why is that????
Loving, JJJ

Pendleton5 said...


That is so awesome. I know how you feel as kids get bigger & grow UP & in some ways outgrow us. Ah, Anj, I think this is my FAVORITE yet.

Love Ya,