In the United States, the League of American Bicyclists have declared the month of May every year to be National Bike Month. It really is the perfect month for it. If you live in a state that gets hot in the summer, May is usually fairly mild. And if you live in a state that gets frigid in the winter, May is about when you can strip the mittens from your hands and feel the wind in your face.
I love biking. As a young child, I was “cautious.” I didn’t get rid of my training wheels until I was 8 and what pushed me into that milestone was that my younger brother got rid of his and I was not about to be outdone by him. But a year later after we moved from rural Indiana to the suburban sprawl of Chicago, bicycling became my morning meditation.
We lived on a street that circled around. Once around the street was the equivalent of half a mile. I’m not sure what possessed me, but somewhere in my 9 year old brain I had resolved to bike around the circle 6 times every morning right after breakfast, all summer. So I did. My favorite part was going down the hill as fast as I could. I only had a 1 speed, so getting up the hill was work, but it was worth it. For Easter I got decorations for my spokes and streamers for my handlebars, despite the fact that by the time I was 10 and 11, the other kids my age were making fun of such “baby” accruements. I was simultaneously embarrassed by them and yet I did love them (my spokes glowed in the DARK!)
I biked to piano lessons, I biked to the city pool, I biked to school when early morning seminary was cancelled. I was one of those ornery teenagers that complained about any kind of family vacation with forced outings like hiking or tours of old places, but I still think of our bike trip around Mackinac Island fondly. I could have done that all day.
My bicycling story hit a bump when I went away to college, but after we moved to Oakland, we started accumulating a few secondhand bikes that came to us cheap or free. Having no garage or shed, our home is now adorned in “bicycle chic,” aka, all but one of our bikes sit in our kitchen.
Last month, the bicycling community celebrated 30 days of Biking, a push to go out and bike every day, even if it’s just around the block. For National Bike Month, I suggest you all try to go out, even for a little bit. Bike rentals and bike shares are usually reasonable priced if you don’t have a bike yourself. Go out and feel the freedom you felt as a kid. You don’t need fancy clothes or a fancy bike, I promise.