I remember racing down the hill on my first purple bike, finally free of training wheels. Pink and white streamers fluttered under my tiny grip, clutching the handlebars as I rumbled along the small dips in the road. I felt like I was flying, invigorated by the wind hitting my face and the rush from moving with so much speed. Riding my bike filled me with a sense of joyful freedom. I loved the autonomy and felt like I could go anywhere.
When I was 39, I bought myself my first adult bike. A cherry red Electra cruiser embellished with playful art by Alexander Girard. Sky-blue butterflies danced along the comfy seat, the cheerful bell and my handle grips. Riding that bike felt like childhood joy. And even though it only had three speeds, I rarely complained about the struggle I felt moving that heavy bike up steep hills and across miles of roads and paths. I loved riding my bike. But over time, I rode it less. The effort involved began to displace the joy.
Recently, my beloved encouraged me to invest in a new bicycle. He wanted to help re-spark my joy. This time, I chose a bike with electric-assist, not really knowing the implications of that choice. But, this weekend I took my new bike out for a spin. The first thing I noticed was that I could pedal up a hill without having to stop to catch my breath. I could maintain my stride and still get exercise without struggling and panting. With just a bit assistance from the silent motor, riding up hills and across distance felt FUN instead of labor-intensive. I had so much fun riding to breakfast, that I decided to ride my bike to the grocery store and I felt like I could ride all day. I felt the freedom and joy of my six-year-old self.
I have so much gratitude for years on a bike that helped me build strength and endurance. I can travel the distance, with or without assistance. AND I am so grateful for the choice to not have to effort so much while riding. I appreciate the chance to bring JOY back into my ride.