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by Maricia Mlynek


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Lessons of the Bike Ride

My next excursion was to Canton, Ohio. It was not a trip of leisure. I was asked to make the journey to help sort and organize a room that will be my new niece or nephew’s playroom. Though my trip to see my sister Mindy was one of work, I found time for a little fun. My dad and I rose early in the mornings and took a few bike rides.


Mindy and her husband Scott live in the heart of suburbia. Their community connects with other communities, and a bike ride on flat streets through tree lined neighborhoods promised to be lovely. I didn’t grow up where bikes were easily ridden. We lived in the country. Our only bike riding was in the cornfields or hayfields, which are not really ideal places for cruising. I remember the summer days of pulling the old bike out of the barn. It was the same bike that all of my sisters had ridden. The tires barely held air and the handle bars were bent, but it was all I had.


I am the youngest of four girls. My closest sister Missy is five years older than me. There were countless occasions that she tried to eliminate me. One such occasion was on the old bike. She strategically placed me on the hill facing the barn and challenged me to ride. Of course, I had to at least try. So, I mounted the bike and let it go. I was good at coasting and riding, but stopping had not been mastered. I hit the side of the barn like a freight train off its tracks.


As I lay in the dust and gravel, I realized that life truly is unfair, and childhood is harder than most adults realize. Thus, as I took to the road as an adult biker, I was grateful for the lessons learned as a child. Bike riding today was not nearly as scary. We had helmets strapped on and riding gloves laced up. I felt like I was preparing to ride in a Motocross race. Where were helmets when I was plowing into the side of the barn?


Life is different, isn’t it? Yet, I missed the wind blowing through my hair. I missed the thrill of near death situations and possible bodily harm. I missed the barns, gravel, and hills. Everything looked the same. Street after street were lined with homes identical in shape and size. I guess I enjoy the thrill and pain of country living after all.


As we rode onto Lavender Lane for the third time, we were hopelessly lost. Cornfields are not as confusing as streets in upper class America, and bike riding, even as an adult, can be filled with revelations.


Though the streets were lovely and pristine, I would choose the gravel paths and steep hills because they always led me home.


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