The First Pedal Strokes
Do you remember your first time riding a bike? It was probably a crisp spring morning. Your training wheels were gone and your dad or mom was holding the back of your seat. You began pedaling. Wobbly. Leaning left and right. Quickly realizing that every time you turned the handlebars your bike leaned even harder in that direction. You pedaled as fast as those little legs of yours could go. Completely out of control. Your parent grabbing and holding you up from ominous explosion. You wanted those stupid, piece of shit, bent and abused training wheels back. You cried. Tears flowed down your face catching the glimmering early morning light. You pedaled faster and faster, trembling with fear as the speed began to freak out your brain’s receptors. You could hear you dad breathing harder and harder as he ran along your side.
Suddenly, as if you were going to make the jump to light speed, everything got quiet. Your wobbling began to correct itself. You feet spun faster and faster still. You didn’t hear the footsteps of your dad, you didn’t hear his breathing. You looked back and saw a smile. A jump in the air. A victory dance. Your parent screaming at you with an excitement that you hadn’t heard before. You were pedaling. On your own. Freeeeeeeedom! This is where pedaling through the days of our youth began for most of us. Do you remember? I do.
The Days of Knievel
It started with a simple skid. Leaving that identifying mark on your driveway so everyone knew that you are the one. Then it progressed, curb drops, curb balancing acts, pedaling for speed, and finally a before-dinner stop at the local house under construction. Yes, the plywood board and your first air, albeit an air off of plywood with a couple of 2 x 4s under it, but nonetheless air. It is at this point that many of us changed directions in how and what we rode. Blood. Scrapes. Scratches. Stitches. Even broken bones in some instances. This brought some of us to a standstill and others of us pushing further, harder, and faster. The Wheelie. Then the wheelie to bunnyhop. Then the larger jump. Then the larger trick. Once airborne, the sky began to become the limit. The higher you went, the more time you had in the air, the more time you could show off. No hands. No feet. And combination after combination. All connected to pedaling harder and harder.
It is here that many of us checked out. Put the days of our youth behind us. Got jobs. Moved onto the couch. Long gone are the days of pedaling through our youth. We truly felt that was the right path to choose. Maybe it was a time before the mountain bike. Or a time when the bicycle became a mode of transport forgotten for the car. Or maybe, we even felt it silly to move from point a to point b via a simple pedal stroke. For those of us who pushed through though, we still live like kids. “Three kings stealing the gold.” No we don’t necessarily need big air anymore. We don’t need to show off. We do need that simple act of getting on a bike and pedaling. It frees our minds so our souls will follow. It allows us to discover creativity. And most importantly it it fuels our passion…to ride faster, check our balance, and get one more air off of that curb as we cross the road in front of our houses to get to that next trail to continue pedaling through the days of our youth.
Check out a selection of hand-picked images corresponding to the story on our Images + Words Stock Photos Site or
To see the ENTIRE collection of images that inspired this story visit the gallery on our Images + Words Stock Photos Site.