For Odette and me growing up, bikes equaled independence. I remember hurtling down from a loading ramp and almost getting smooshed by a car. I remember taking the coaster brake apart and reassembling it just for fun. I had a paper route from age eleven to fourteen and rode about ten miles a day in all weather. I remember country roads and cross country descents on big balloon tires. I felt like I had really arrived when I got a five-speed Schwin with drop handlebars. I rode that thing to work at a drug store after school every night for four years. Odette talks about getting on her bike and being away from home all day and having to learn her surroundings all over again when she learned to drive because they looked different from that vantage point than she knew them from her bike.
It was different for Will. We didn’t let him play in the street and we were afraid that he would fall off and hurt his head. Will didn’t learn to ride a bike until he was eleven when I bribed him with something. A couple of years later I bribed him to ride the STP with me. We rode about 1,500 miles to train for it and that may have been a little much. Now Will says he doesn’t like biking. He puts “no biking” signs all over the house. He is really obnoxious when I make him ride and complains that I don’t wait, that I go too fast, and that I run red lights – all of which are true.
Will’s kind of changing his mind! He had me ship his bike to him at college. He even bought at bike in China! He got a grant from Mudd to do bike mods along the line of Chunk666 or Dead Baby. I shipped him the frame from his original kiddy-bike and he made US News & World Report with it. (Here’s an article in the Mudd newsletter about his project.) There’s hope yet!
Here are our biking stories: