Wheels of Change

words by: Nate Rodriguez

I’ve been riding bikes for as a long as I can remember.  My first bike was a kid’s cruiser complete with ‘Banana Seat’ chopper handlebars, and a squared off rear tire.  It was owned by a family friend and they offered it to me for $12.  I remember talking them down to $9 and I borrowed the money from my parents so I could buy it on the spot.  (We were over at their house.)  We lived on a horseback riding camp for city kids so there was no shortage of chores to do and ways to make a buck so I shoveled horse manure for about 9 hours to work off the loan for the bike.  They may have not let me ride it until I paid it off but maybe I’m just remembering them being overly strict because I suppose that’s how kids tend to remember their parents.

All the kids in the neighbourhood rode bikes.  We had an adjacent dirt road near our house that went up a long hill and we were surrounded by woods and trails.  The lucky kids had dirt bikes but many of us got by with our bmx’s and the like.

The thing I’ve always loved about bikes is that it is something you can do on your own.  Sure it helps to have a patient instructor when you’re a kid trying to figure it out for the first time, but in a pinch, you can pick up a bike, set the seat to a comfortable position and figure out how to get down the trail by yourself.  As a kid, once you mastered the ride, suddenly your range became much larger and your response time to summons by friends much quicker.

The other thing I’ve always loved about bikes is that anyone can do it.  Short, tall, big, small, disabled, injured and, of course, male and female.  I love that the muddbunnies exists to get women into cycling and especially mountain cycling.  I feel honoured to have been a part of race team support over the 2012 season so far and have truly enjoyed getting to know the team members and experiencing the different events.  I’ve never been a racer but have come to appreciate the competitive side of my passion.

I was moved to write this because I read an article on MSN today about how N. Korea has lifted the ban on women riding bikes.  The ban was put in place in 1996 because, “the activity wasn’t regarded as sufficiently feminine.”  Read the article for yourself here.

It is a travesty that places in the world still have government officials making these decisions and judgments for their people.  It is a tragedy that for nearly 20 years, girls grew up in N. Korea not being able to pick up a bike and feel the wind in their hair and see their world get bigger.  I’m glad the “wheels of change” are turning in N. Korea and even happier that those wheels are bike wheels.

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