Feel The Wind In Your Hair!

Did you know that May 1st is Learn To Ride A Bike Day?  Perhaps you remember having training wheels when you first learned?  Or maybe you got the hang of it right away and started on two wheels?

I remember my initial experience with bike riding.  My childhood friend, Jill, was going to receive a Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle for her 9th birthday.  She had been awaiting its arrival for weeks.  Boy, was it cool!  It was the color purple.  And it had a banana seat, which had enough room for two people to sit on it.   Sometimes I sat behind her as she wheeled around the Allendale parking lot.

One day she allowed me to try my hand.  Now, in fact, I did not know how to ride a bicycle at age 8.  This I told her, but she said that was okay; she would teach me.  I got on that banana seat, placed both hands on the handle bars, placed one foot on a pedal, and picked up my other foot as I pushed down on the first pedal.  I was bike riding!  Bang!  I ran into the Allendale’s brick wall.  I had forgotten about braking.  Or turning.  I fell off, but the bike was unharmed!  And, luckily, so was our friendship.

By age 12 I had mastered the art of two wheels.  On sunny days you could find me exploring every dead end and cul-de-sac in Moline.  This knowledge still serves me well as a car driver.  I know the fastest routes throughout the city.

Do you want to remember the joy you felt when you first learned how to ride?  Here are some titles to help you remember the feel the wind in your hair and the utter sense of freedom:

My bike / illustrated by Byron Barton.

The bike lesson / by Stan and Jan Berenstain.

Franklin rides a bike / written by Paulette Bourgeois ; illustrated by Brenda Clark.

Biking / by Cynthia Klingel and Robert B. Noyed.

The science of a bicycle : the science of forces / by Ian Graham.

Biking Iowa : 50 great road trips and trail rides / Bob Morgan

The cyclist who went out in the cold : adventures riding the Iron Curtain / Tim Moore.

A voyage across an ancient ocean : a bicycle journey through the northern dominion of oil / David Goodrich.

So in honor of this national holiday, I say to you, dust off your bicycle, pump up those tires, and go bike riding today!


In the City of Bikes by Pete Jordan

in the city of bikesWhen Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make American cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels.

In the City of Bikes follows Pete and his new bride, Amy Joy. Despite their financial hardships and instability, Amy Joy eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam. From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycles role in a citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.

Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, In the City of Bikes is the story of a man who loves bikes – in a city that loves bikes (description from publisher)

Breaking Away

breaking awayThere’s lots of bicycling in the news this week – RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) is at the halfway point and the Tour de France will finish on Sunday (can Lance Armstrong pull off his comeback?) Keep the bicycling theme going and check out the movie Breaking Away, one of the best sports movies ever made.

Set in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, four friends are caught in limbo after finishing high school, not know what they want to do next. The college kids derisively call them “cutters” (for the stone quarry where most of their blue-collar fathers work). Dave escapes into his dream of becoming a bicycle racer for the world champion Italian team by training rigorously and even learning to speak Italian (much to his father’s chagrin). After one dream is shattered, an unexpected opportunity opens when a local team (the “Cutters”, led by Dave) is allowed to compete in the famous Little 500 bicycle race at Indiana University. What follows will have you cheering for what’s possible against impossible odds.

Loosely based on a true story (there really is a Little 500 race at Indiana University) this heartwarming (in the best sense) movie is more than a story about a bicycle race – it’s also about family and home, about loyalty and friendship, about accepting and embracing change, about finding your perfect place in the world. Beautifully acted (Dennis Christopher, Paul Dooley, Daniel Stern, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, Barbara Barrie) this inspiring film will make you laugh, cry and cheer.