Thursday, August 15, 2013

Remembering Childhood Passions

When was the last time you tried a favorite childhood activity that you’ve ignored since reaching adulthood?

Recently I went for a bike ride, something I had not done for many years despite it being my major form of transport in my early/mid teens when I used to cycle to school, to friends’ houses and to the beach. I don’t remember any conscious decision to stop cycling but I guess as college replaced school and socializing became geared towards evening entertainment in the city, cycling became less practical. As is the way in big families, the bicycle, which had been passed onto me from an older sibling, was then passed onto a younger sibling, and I never felt the need to buy a new one.

We’ve been to Cape May, NJ, several times and each time I’ve looked at the multitude of bicycle rental shops and thought how nice it would be to cycle down the promenade or to the lighthouse, but never got round to doing it. This year I decided to stop thinking and start doing.

Despite the saying that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget, I was convinced that I would somehow be the exception to the rule. So much had changed since I last cycled. We never wore helmets, I’m not sure they existed, but the biggest difference, and probably the main reason I haven’t returned to cycling for so many years, has to be the volume of traffic. It didn’t help my confidence that the bike I rented did not have brakes on the handlebars but required backward peddling, which may sound like a minor difference, but one which I worried I’d forget at a crucial moment!

Luckily, the saying turns out to be true and, after a couple of seconds of wobbling, the skill came back to me and I wondered why I’d waited so long to cycle again. I’d forgotten the sense of freedom it induces—it’s so much easier to stop and admire the scenery en route than if you are in a carthe fabulous feeling of the breeze on your skin and the exhilaration of the exercise.

My daughter and I set off early and stayed mostly on the back roads so traffic was not an issue. I enjoyed the experience so much that, while I don’t think I will ever be comfortable on busy roads, I’m now seriously considering buying a bicycle and making use of the many bike paths/trails now available—yet another change since my youth.

And who knows, maybe one day I might try a cycling vacation. 

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