“Bliss” defined as finding perfect happiness, great joy
One of my first memories is pointing up at a blue tricycle, with red and white wheels, displayed on a high shelf in a Firestone store and firmly stating to my dad, “That one. I want the blue one!” Like most things I wanted, I did get the shiny blue tricycle. That’s when my love affair with bicycles began. The blue tricycle once purchased was stored at my grandmother’s house. Mom and I visited grandmother every morning for coffee. We would walk the 3 blocks from our house to hers after my sister went to school. Grandmother’s house sat on a large double corner lot. I was allowed to ride the trike down the driveway and around the sidewalks of the house without supervision as long as Grandpa was somewhere in the yard. A master gardener, Grandpa was always out in the yard. I can still feel the wind in my unruly hair as I shot down the slopped driveway towards the street. I became an expert at making the turn right, staying within the property lines, on the walkways and avoiding the very limited oncoming traffic. Down the sidewalk I would barrel as fast as I could pedal and around the corner (no stopping for turns). With the wind at my back, my legs going full tilt, no adult in sight, I remember the joyous feeling of complete freedom! This is a feeling I have been able to find over and over again when biking for more than 63 years.
I moved up quickly from the tricycle to a small, white bike with orange trim and training wheels. I can remember the absolute sense of accomplishment as my grandpa stood at one end holding me up with no training wheels and pushed me towards my mom standing at the other end of the sidewalk waiting to grab me. But no, the bike wobbled, Grandpa ran along straightening and then I was up and off right past mom! Oh the joy of personal success. Like the old saying goes, once you learn to ride a bike you never forget.
From the small two wheeler, I moved up to a blue Huffy, my magic horse. It had three gears, a veritable chariot. Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I grew up, is relatively flat and in the fifties and sixties, quite small. I could ride anywhere to meet up with friends. I was frequently off to the library (my favorite haunt), Dorothy’s, Melissa’s or Dodd’s Store for candy. My only limitations were my imagination and my mom’s permission.
In graduate school at Arizona State University (ASU), a bicycle was my main means of transportation. I had a elegant, 10-speed, light-weight purple road bike, a French-made Gitane. Gitane stands for gypsy woman.Coming from Wyoming, the glorious, expansive dessert surrounding Phoenix combined with living alone in my first apartment, certainly made me feel like a gypsy on the run. Unfortunately, ASU was a mecca for bike thieves and my Gitane was stolen. I then purchased a burnt orange Schwinn. It was much sturdier and better made for the commuting I was doing in a large metropolitan area.
The years rolled along and the bikes did too. The most notable change in biking patterns came when I had my son, Scott. First, Pete and I purchased a Thule child-bike-puller. As soon as Scott could sit on his own, Pete would take him out in the Thule so I would have a break. As Scott got bigger, we by-passed the tricycle route because we lived on a steep hill and busy street. Instead, we purchased a tag-along. The tag-along allows small children to bike behind you and pedal (or not depending on the child’s motivation that day). The tag-along also allows the adult to get in a full-trength bike ride and helps teach children how to balance on a regular bike.
I was never a good enough biker to navigate the hill we live on and pull children up and down. But Pete, who owns 7 bicycles and might be called a bike enthusiast, has been able to haul children everywhere they might want to go. I remember Pete was biking with Scott in the Thule. I was trailing behind. Pete had stopped because he was winded. I heard a little voice from the Thule shout, “Go, Daddy, Go! Don’t stop Daddy!” Pete and I still laugh to this day about “Don’t stop Daddy, don’t stop.”
A couple of years ago, I thought with great sadness my biking days were coming to an end. I could no longer get up and down the mountain we live on by bicycle. I had resorted to carrying the bike by car to the many bike paths available in Boise on flatter land. I found as my balance declined, it was becoming difficult for me to ferry the bike down the hill, unload it and then go for a jaunt. The joy of spontaneous riding was gone. My bliss had transformed into work and discouragement about aging. I gave Pete an ultimatum. We had to figure out how I could ride from where we lived or we had to move to the highly-sought-after, expensive flatlands. As a mountain biker, the flatlands held no appeal to Pete. But he did find us a compromise, he found the electric bike. We drove to San Francisco two Thanksgivings ago and purchased a Pedego after test riding it on the San Francisco hills. It seemed up the challenge of Boise’s Shaw Mountain.
Spring has come–my Pedego is out and about all over Boise. When I pull in at church on Sunday, many people come over to ask me about my electric bike. It is heavy and not for the faint of heart because it goes fast, up to 20 miles an hour going up hill. I fly down the Mountain, taking the side streets to the green belt from the flatland and from there I can get anywhere in Boise. I can go to coffee, lunch, church, shopping no problem. I am once again free from the confines of aging and able to feel my bliss!