Cycling Stories


January 16, 2020



“Bicycles are more than just toys: they’re vehicles that can grant us unlimited freedom.”

I don’t have many memories of my first bike, other than that it had vinyl Snoopy stickers stuck to its red frame, along with hollow plastic wheels. These, I eventually wore down to shreds, which smacked against the frame with each wheel spin.

My next bike was stolen from our driveway after I left it out overnight. I went inside crying, and my dad admonished, “I told you not to leave it unattended.” It was a harsh lesson to learn.

The bike after that? It was a memory-maker.

My Blue Mongoose

The year was 1988. It was summer. I was 11, riding to a friend’s house to play video games.

No helmet—only my KC Royals hat. No parents—the feeling of freedom was palpable. No water, despite the Texas heat.

Underneath me was my teal Mongoose BMX bike, with its five-spoke white wheels and coordinating tires, grips, pedals, and seat—which was slammed down as far as it could go so that it wouldn’t interfere with my sweet tricks.

So many memories come flooding back looking at these pictures: the ribbing on the grips, the feel of the rough patch in the middle of the handlebars, putting my hands and feet on the rear grab bar. Credit: Jumpman, via

I turned left out of our rural driveway, made a right at the end of our street, and coasted down the first of several hills. After cresting two more, I remember the thrill of realizing that was the farthest I’d ever ventured from home by myself.

Up and down the remaining hills I went, cruising atop fresh asphalt that baked in the Texas summer sun. I’d cruise down, enjoying the wind against my skin, and then pedal like mad on the upside, pedaling my single gear as fast as it would spin before I lost my momentum.

Although my friend’s house was only a couple of miles away, at my young age, it felt like the other side of town. And because I was inexperienced and didn’t carry any water, I was parched by the time I arrived.

Screw video games—the only thought I had was to drink a gallon of water!

Cycling: A Lifelong Passion

After that ride, I could never look at a bike, whether it had a rider speeding past or not, without imagining myself on it, pedaling somewhere fantastic. I’d become addicted to the feeling of the wind in my face, heart beating, lungs working overtime, and sweat on my brow, legs spinning.

But most of all, this experience helped me understand that bicycles are more than just toys: they’re vehicles that can grant us unlimited freedom. But, only if we’re willing to step outside our comfort zones, put in the work, and gain the courage always to seek what’s over the next hill.

Just make sure to carry plenty of water!

This was the beginning of what would become my lifelong obsession with bikes.

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Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist, and is the founder of TreadBikely. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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