The Cycle and Me: A Love Story
“Now that I live in Ireland, I see that the Irish have the same love for cycling as the Danish, so there’s still some hope remaining that I’ll experience my long-awaited love story.”Zahra Hamdani
As far back as I can remember, my fondest childhood memories involve a bicycle. We all know nothing beats riding, although I can’t remember at which age I started, or who taught me to ride.
I’ve always had a love affair with cycling, though. In fact, when meeting people who don’t know how to ride, I always wonder: how did they spend their childhood?
I’ve lived in many countries: the USA, Pakistan, and Denmark, and I currently reside in Ireland. But wherever I am, the excitement of cycling has remained a constant in my life. It always instills in me a thrill like no other.
Along the NYC Boardwalk
In the US, I lived next to South Beach on Staten Island, which is part of the NYC metropolitan area. The long boardwalk next to our home allowed me to ride to and from the beach, and boy did I enjoy it!
Every summer day, we raced down to the beach, competing with our friends to see who would make it there first.
Once we arrived, going onto the boardwalk was exciting in its own right. With the fresh ocean breeze and friends all around, it was a great way to spend those long days.
Ice Cream in Pakistan
After we moved to Pakistan, our father wanted to make sure that we still had the best bicycles, so he shipped ours over from the US.
I lived in a totally different environment there, and my siblings were grown, so cycling became more of a family activity. I vividly remember whizzing through our housing colony, up and down people’s driveways, ringing their doorbells, and then riding away as fast as we could before we got caught—genuinely memorable experiences.
In Pakistan, there is no concept of an ice cream truck. Instead, a man rode his special bicycle around the neighborhood, selling ice cream along the way.
He would always blast music from his speakers so that everyone in the housing colony would know that he’d arrived. Following that tune on our cycles, trying to reach him, only made our ice creams taste better once we caught up.
Danish Dashed Dreams
Growing up, I just couldn’t get enough of cycling. For a few years as an adult, though, the sport had little-to-no place in my life.
After visiting a family friend in Denmark one summer, I rediscovered my passion. And as crazy as it might sound, I ended up marrying a Danish-born Pakistani.
After we got married, my excitement was sky-high that I would finally live in a country where cyclists are given as much importance as car drivers. Unfortunately, that was a cycling love story with an unhappy ending, and even after spending three years in Denmark, I never got had a chance to ride as I wanted.
Making Family Memories in Ireland
Now that I live in Ireland, I see that the Irish have the same love for cycling as the Danish, so there’s still some hope remaining that I’ll experience my long-awaited love story.
For now, I wait for the cold winter to pass. Afterward, the first thing on my list is to buy a bicycle and rekindle that love. But this time, I plan to do it with my kids.
And hopefully, when they look back at their fondest childhood memories, it will include cycling as a family.