I used to bike a lot, though I never called myself a cyclist. Mostly because I biked, in normal clothes, just to save college parking pass money and stay in shape. Not pretend I was in the Olympics.
“Cyclists,” on the other hand, ride bikes costing thousands of dollars while wearing expensive spandex pants and shirts that look ready to have brand logos slapped all over them. They wear this stuff into Starbucks, apparently hoping people will think they’re taking a coffee break mid-Tour de France, then spend all their time talking about gears and personal equipment setups.
These are the guys that scowl at you from under their cycling helmets before attempting to pass. Many seem permanently peeved.
Maybe it’s because they have to share the road with so many drivers that hate their guts.
And their bad attitudes made drivers hate MY guts too.
I was always surprised by how many drivers made a point to visibly roll their eyes while speeding around me while I was minding my own business, riding in the designated bike lane. It never make sense, because I wasn’t one of those fancy bike jerks. Cars could get around me. I even hopped onto the sidewalk whenever a parked car was in the way.
Yes, I know you’re not technically supposed to do that, but there were never any pedestrians on the sidewalk. We Californians love our cars. I figured detouring around the sidewalk was better than weaving in and out of traffic, at any rate.
Fast-forward several years and I’d dropped the biking habit entirely. Post-college life wasn’t nearly as bike-friendly, what with all the employment, freeways and fatigue getting in the way.
But when Brontë was nearly two, my husband and I decided to give biking another shot. We did some research on child bike seats and eventually outfitted my bike with a green Ibert front-carrier. I slipped her into it one day and took off…
She was amazed by the experience, singing and waving her tiny arms in the air. I imagine it would be pretty exciting, picturing it from her point of view. She was waaaaaay above the ground, flying by at a speed uncommonly fast for babies, feeling the breeze blow back her curls and wondering where we were heading next…
Unfortunately, I was pregnant at the time. We only managed to bike around the neighborhood a few more weeks before every time my thighs moved up a couple inches, they’d slam my belly and crush my ribs.
We moved the bikes back into the garage.
Until a few weeks ago, when John and I grabbed our kids’ hands and led them back to the bikes.
Brontë was THRILLED. “We gonna BIKE?” she shouted while beaming. She asked for her kitty-cat helmet and I was amazed she could remember so much about something that happened so long ago. You never know what kids will remember.
Only now, the kitty-cat helmet belonged to Bridget, along with the green Ibert chair. Brontë got a new Minnie Mouse helmet and a child seat that went in the rear.
“I LOVE IT!” she screamed.
It was all new to Bridget, but she quickly got on-board, ringing my purple owl bike-bell over and over and giggling at her newfound sonic powers.
Since then, we’ve biked nearly every evening and the kids couldn’t be happier. I’ll ask them if they want to ride the bikes and they’ll drop whatever they’re doing to run away, returning with their bike helmets slapped onto their heads and yelling “GO! GO! GO!”
My husband and I take them to a park outside the neighborhood so they can play for a while and wear themselves out before getting back on the bikes and returning home. Sometimes we grab dinner while we’re out, either take-out or something fast.
It just goes to show that you don’t need to spend much to make your kids happy. Really, spending time with you is all they want.
I’ve also learned something about biking outside our neighborhood with the kids:
Remember how I said drivers tend to be hostile to cyclists? Well, not when kids are involved.
Something about having a smiling, waving baby with a tiny pink helmet between my handlebars has completely turned people around. I’ve suddenly gone from Annoying Cyclist, plaguing the road, to Awesome Mom, doing right by her kids.
Now, cars give us a wide berth. They motion us forward, even when I was waiting to let them go first. Drivers hang their heads out to smile and wave at Bidgie, who yells, “HI GUYS!” in the most adorable way.
I guess I can’t blame them. Bidgie is pretty dang cute when she she rings her bell and shouts “BYE BYE!” to the passing folks. Brontë waves too, from behind her dad, before telling him again how strong he is for biking so fast. They’re finally getting a chance to hang out together and talk, and it’s bringing them closer. She used to hate his singing and now she asks him to sing.
And I think we’ll be riding for years to come. Especially now that I know kids are a biking superpower.