Stay Safe! (Editor's Letter)
Biking has always been one of my favorite outdoor activities. I can’t remember a time when my family’s garage wasn’t bursting with bicycles, tricycles, scooters and an assortment of helmets and knee pads.
Before I could even sit myself on a tricycle, I was going along for bike rides. My parents were the proud owners of two child trailers that hitched onto their bikes. My siblings and I would ride around in the tiny tent-like structures, a cool breeze coming through the mesh roof and sides as we looked at board books and ate snacks while Mom and Dad pedaled down the dusty Illinois Prairie Path.
If you ask my mom about teaching me to ride a bike sans training wheels, she shakes her head and says that I took forever to learn. (And all my siblings throw in their two cents about how they learned faster than me.) But quite frankly, I don’t remember much of it — only that in the end, I could indeed ride a bike. I do remember, though, that my first bicycle had a shiny white basket and sparkly streamers coming from the handlebars, which are far more important details.
The years went by and I worked my way through cousins’ hand-me-down bikes and garage sale finds. The summer I graduated high school, I got a brand new bike to take to college.
My mom and I had picked it out at a local shop and followed our shopping trip with a stop at A&W for rootbeer floats, where she insisted that the bike salesman — who was probably only a couple years older than me — thought I was cute. Like any teenage daughter would, I rolled my eyes at the idea.
I would frequently bike to the city pool where I worked as a lifeguard and only a few weeks after getting my brand new bike, I had a wipeout on the trail. The front end was twisted, my knee was bloodied and that bike wasn’t going anywhere.
My mom brought it back to the shop where they repaired it good as new. When she brought it back home there was a note attached: "Alexis, Stay safe! Make sure to wear a helmet. We don’t want you to get hurt!" It was signed by all of the guys at the shop. Including, as my mom made sure to point out, the boy who (she thought) thought I was cute. I still didn’t believe her, but I was sufficiently embarrassed that they had written me a note and I most definitely wore a helmet from there on out.
So where am I going with this? September is a perfect month for bike riding as the temperatures begin to drop ever so slightly and families look for ways to spend time together during the busy beginning of the school year. In this month's issue, we’ve got several suggestion of places you can bike around with your family.
And this is my note to you (sorry it’s not from a cute boy at a bike shop): Stay safe and make sure to wear a helmet. I don’t want you to get hurt!