Growing Up With Cycling
“Despite my—now terrified—mother’s objections, nothing would stop me from getting back on. My bike was now almost entirely ingrained in who I was, and that suited me just fine!”Scott Walker
First Pedal Turns
I don’t remember how young I was when I got my first bike. I do remember that it had stabilizers, and I raced around the garden and park with my parents.
Perhaps one of my earliest vivid memories is taking off the stabilizers for the first time while visiting my grandparents on the coast of Kent.
We were on a grassy section that ran parallel to the beach in Deal. My granddad (of whom I, unfortunately, have few other memories) was pushing me along. It was only when I heard my mum cheering that I turned to see granddad no longer beside me, and I realized he’d let go!
I was off! Bikes were a significant part of my childhood from then on, and would certainly take me a long way.
Freedom On the Bike
During my earliest years, all I wanted to do was ride. I wasn’t allowed to go far, but the chance to simply ride up and down my street for hours was such a joy.
The freedom of just being outside. The wind on my face. No rules, no one else to worry about, just my bike and me.
I’d find it tortuous now, but back then, the pure pleasure of pedaling my way from one end of the street to the other was bliss. It was my favorite place to be.
Biking Toward Independence
In addition to giving me the freedom to roam unsupervised, bikes also helped me gain my independence since my first ever job was as a paperboy!
I could get paid and have my own money to spend as I pleased. And basically, all I had to do was ride from one house to another with my trusty steed!
Thanks to my bike, I was moving up in the world!
Friendships Maintained by Cycling
Once I was allowed to stray further than the end of the road, my bike became the best way of keeping in touch with friends.
This was before mobile phones, and our home phone was often busy being used by my mother, sister, or the internet modem.
I just jumped on my bike, went for a ride, and saw who was around to join me, or who wanted to play football. Even if no one was around, there was never a wasted trip as I got to get outside and ride my bike!
Getting Back On the Bike
In addition to its involvement in several other ‘firsts’ in my life, my bike also had a part to play in my first ambulance trip.
During one of my routine trips to a friend’s house, I took the opportunity to practice my ‘no hands’ riding. I planned to crest a well-known speed bump, which I usually did without a problem, but it didn’t quite go as planned!
The next thing I remember, I was lying on the ground. I don’t recall any pain, although a passer-by insisted I lay still while they called an ambulance. Too young to protest and insist that I was fine, I laid there wondering how my mum would decide to kill me once she found out.
After everything was said and done, I was only left with a few bumps and grazes—and two very relieved parents!
Despite my—now terrified—mother’s objections, nothing would stop me from getting back on. My bike was now almost entirely ingrained in who I was, and that suited me just fine!
Cycling to Lasting Relationships
Bikes have also been a huge factor in developing personal relationships.
As a paperboy, I made new friends who also like to ride. I even took the next step in my childhood career by working in the shop where I’d taken my bike as a paperboy.
Biking also gave me the freedom and mobility to connect with existing friends and solidify those relationships.
To this day (more than 20 years later), my best friend is the person I cycled with the most while growing up. We’ve been through a lot together, and it usually involved bikes.
We were paperboys together.
We cycled to school together.
We cycled to the park together.
We cycled just for the sake of it. Needless to say, together.
Though he doesn’t ride anymore, the bond built by bikes will not be broken anytime soon!
Childhood Memories: Growing Up Cycling
Cycling was an integral part of almost every aspect of my life growing up, and I loved it.
I’m so glad my childhood took place before technology changed it forever. I could very easily have spent my developmental years behind a screen instead of on a bike, which is a thought that scares me!
I know that my children will get bikes of their own almost as soon as they can walk, so that they, too, will have a trusty steed to rely on, and guide them through adulthood.