too many words by laura lemay

karl elvis and olivia go cycling

Today is cycling day and I am catching up on my cycling posts.

My old friend Karl Elvis tells the story{.broken_link} about how his 12 year old daughter has been trying to learn to ride a two-wheeler, but it’s been so hard. I remember when I was there, a little younger than that, when all my friends could already ride, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it and I just got angry and upset over and over again. And I remember the amazing sense of joy when I did get it, when I could finally ride from end of my street to the other all by myself.

When you’re that age, bikes represent freedom. The world just opened up to her. The library, the bookstore, the local hangouts. Starbucks and the local mall. She can get there. She’s not ready now, but she sees the distance shrink. She sees the world, unreachable yesterday, drawing close to her, like space warping. She’s asking me, can we rent bikes, next time we go to Hawaii, or Fiji, or Turk and Caicos? Can we ride to the local Sushi place instead of driving? Can we go out now, please, right now. She doesn’t care that she’s covered in bruises from falling, that her butt hurts from the seat, that she’s got odd sore muscles in her legs. She wants to move and not stop moving.

And I remember that feeling. Like my daughter, I was a big, slow kid. I was strong; I was an ox. But I was slow and clumsy. The bike changed that, letting the strength in my legs compensate for my size. I could race my friends, and while I didn’t usually win, I never came in last. I could move and go. Freedom and power.

I stood there in that bike shop and looked at the bike she’d chosen, and looked at the killer sale price, and started mentally adding up how much it was going to cost me to get my mountain bike working. I added up the parts and the effort and the time and then looked at her riding and I said to the clerk, hey, can I try this one?

This is such an an inspiring story.

(I got it from The Moronosphere.)