By the time I was thirteen I was bicycling all over my home town and vicinity. I would go to church, to friends houses, and just get away. The bicycle became a tool for freedom like I had never known before. The neighbor gal & I would disassemble and fix our bikes continually so they would be better than ever and also keep working. I was discovering my mechanical abilities during that time.
Often my Mother and I would bicycle together for the fun of going places. We discovered more of our county by bike than I had ever seen by car! We took many trips and had many laughs. Those were the best days together! The local lake was a popular place to ride to so we could go swimming and afterwards ride home again. Sometimes we would bicycle to a nearby waterfall so we could hike up to see it better. We covered many miles between my thirteenth and fifteenth years.
My Father who was a supervisor at a bike/ski shop was willing to teach me bit-by-bit how to fix my bike and maintain it. By the time I was fifteen He had helped repair an old out building and convert it into a bike shop for me to use. I spent many hours fixing and tinkering with the bikes that I had acquired by then. Soon I ditched baby-sitting in exchange for fixing the neighborhood bikes for income. I really enjoyed my work it was some of the best times I ever had looking back on it.
By the time I was in high school, which for me was mostly 11th and 12th grades, I was bicycling distances frequently. I would ride to and from my school which was 15 miles each way and up some very miserable gravel hills. Sometimes I would return later in the afternoon to the same area as school to visit a friend who lived nearby. I got my drivers license, but I couldn't afford the fuel to keep it running so I kept bicycling unless I had to transport my friends. Nearly all of my cycling friends gave up bicycling after they turned sixteen, but I kept going.
When I was in high school I only dreamed of becoming a bicycle framebuilder. I drew designs of frames that I thought would be fun to try to build. I would calculate the geometry and draw touring bikes and tandems geometrically correct, or so I thought. I hoped one day to go to United Bicycle Institute to take their frame building course. That never happened, but I will not say it never will. It is doubtful that I will ever get my chance at framebuilding, but the dreams will never die. On career day everyone at school was suppossed to dress up as their favorite career and I dressed up as a bike mechanic. I came clothed in greasy clothing, carrying my black grease, and tools in back pocket. It was the only thought that ever consumed all my passion. I was certainly happily insane even back then. :)
A friend of the family showed me something when I was fourteen would change my life forever. He showed me a registration form for Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride, 1984. Unfortunately, it was too late to get it in before the deadline or I would have gone on it that year. The following year, knowing the ride was out there, I spent much of my time training for doing the two-hundred mile ride the following June. Having never trained for any such activity before it presented a few challenges, most of which I didn't discover until AFTER the ride!
The problem that was first discovered was that I wasn't really old enough to go on such a trip alone and I didn't know anyone older than me who would go with me. I hadn't thought too much about it, when my Mother decided that she would get in shape with me and we would do the ride together! WOW! So we began training together. This would be the start of some very exciting long trips!
In 1985 my Mom & I were able to get registered to do the STP. We did survive the trip, barely, and for some reason that I cannot explain, even though we were sore for weeks, we registered again when the time came again. Haha! We were hooked! The ride had opened many new possibilities for us.
Discovery.... The same friend who had offered the registration form to me in 1984 was now offering my parents a tandem bike for sale. None of us really knew what it was.. but it looked intriguing. Before long the decision was made to get it, even though we didn't have any knowledge about riding it. The bike was an old Gitane covered in green algae, and looking a bit worse for wear. We first tried to ride it home since we were less than two miles from home, when the front chain broke on us causing us to walk the remaining distance. We were suprised how hard (impossible) it was to get back on the bike with the chain broken. We were amazed at how easy it was for us to ride that bike together. We were the perfect team, always communicating, always laughing! Those were wonderful memories!
Now we had entered the tandem phase of our cycling which will probably never end! We soon began to upgrade the parts and pieces of the bike so the bike would be more comfortable and do what we wanted it to do. We rode that bike for about four years when I got married and moved away from home. Our cycling slowed to a halt! My Mother finally found a new tandem partner, and never quit riding the STP. She has just completed her 16th ride this past July! (Richard & Marilyn on a Purplish Santana, look for the helmets with purple polka dots on them!)
Since my hubby and I had done a few long ride already we (I) decided to get a tandem of our own. It was a Santana Visa and I soon learned that bicycling just wasn't his favorite thing to do. So, here I was by myself with a hubby who didn't want to ride and a tandem bike. Soon I was having children and the difficulty just increased. I occasionally got a rare opportunity to ride again with my Mother and enjoyed every chance we got together. *Never leave hungry Hubby on the stoker seat of a tandem when the snacks are stored in the panniers! That is a story to tell another day!* :)
My children are finally old enough to take with me, but now my strength is mostly gone after ten years of inactivity. We just got a Bike Friday Family Traveler Triple so we can all go out together again! Yeah! It is good that the kids are very strong and that with some effort they can push me. At least we can leave the house after all these years.