Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your First Bike

My first bike was red, metallic red, with a white basket on the front.   I loved that bike.   I remember a picture of me riding that bike on my birthday.  I was maybe six.  I was wearing a cream colored dress with rick rack on the bottom of the dress where the hem had been let out, again, because I was just not born to be petite.  My first real bike.  

My dad taught me how to ride.  No helmet, no protection on concrete.  That's just how it was done in the 70's.  I still remember that moment when he let go and I went flying down the street and I got it!  I knew how to ride a bike.  That was the beginning of my love affair with bicycles.  

My next bike was a yellow Schwinn 3 speed.  I rode that bike to school until it just wasn't "cool" anymore.  I must have been that incorrigible age of 13.  

And then, the Bianchi.  The black Bianchi, it was Italian, it was beautiful and I spent every dime I had saved working at babysitting jobs and Godfather's Pizza.  I think it was $300 which in the early '80s was a fortune.  I wanted to be Italian just like in the movie, Breaking Away.  I still have that bike, my dad now rides it.  

Then life...college, businesses, too busy....riding was a part of my distant past.

Then like an old friend who knows you better than you know yourself, riding entered my life again in my early 30's.  I had injured my knee running and training for a marathon.  After numerous cortisone shots and continual pain I could not shake my doctor suggested I try a new sport.  Thankfully my best friend and running partner had Plantar Fascia and couldn't run either.  Diana suggested we get bikes.  That was 2000. 

I bought a blue Cannondale road bike, R500, steel frame.  My first ride was 12 miles within a month we did a metric century (62 miles) and I was hooked.  For the past 10 years my life and now my career, my vocation revolves around riding.  This summer, with the help of some good friends with great connections, Max, my adorable French mechanic built my dream bike, a TIME Instinct, Carbon, Campagnolo Super Record 11 Gruppo, Reynolds Carbon wheels, LOOK carbon pedals.  It is beautiful...and it sits hanging in my ex husband's garage while I spread the love of bikes to the masses in Africa.  For now, it waits...others need to know the thrill of that FIRST bike.

Sunday afternoon I spent the day with three young Masai women from the Mara.  They, like the man yesterday from Zimbabwe on the street, like the boys of Team Rwanda, have stories, horrific, sad stories.  But Sunday they were learning how to ride a bike.  Like my dad 35+ years ago taught me, I returned the lesson, to young women in Kenya.

The importance of the bike....

Several months ago my favorite columnist and author, Nicholas Kristof wrote an article about a young boy in Zimbabwe, Abel

Last month, the amazing company I work with, World Bicycle Relief made a little boy's dream come dream along with hundreds of other school children in America.  Abel and his classmates received bikes.

Today, I received a copy of a letter that was sent to Brian, the Country Director for WBR in Zimbabwe from a boy who received a bike:

Never underestimate the Power of the Bike!

The video below is from this week's Road Race in India at the Commonwealth Games.  Adrien spent 2+ laps with the best riders in the world.  A kid from Rwanda, with a past that defies a future, but yet, he rides and he rides like nobody's business!  Go Adrien....a bike changed his life and is changing the country of Rwanda. 

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