words by: Nate Rodriguez
Iâ€™ve been riding bikes for as a long as I can remember.Â My first bike was a kidâ€™s cruiser complete with â€˜Banana Seatâ€™ chopper handlebars, and a squared off rear tire.Â It was owned by a family friend and they offered it to me for $12.Â I remember talking them down to $9 and I borrowed the money from my parents so I could buy it on the spot.Â (We were over at their house.)Â 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.Â They may have not let me ride it until I paid it off but maybe Iâ€™m just remembering them being overly strict because I suppose thatâ€™s how kids tend to remember their parents.
All the kids in the neighbourhood rode bikes.Â We had an adjacent dirt road near our house that went up a long hill and we were surrounded by woods and trails.Â The lucky kids had dirt bikes but many of us got by with our bmxâ€™s and the like.
The thing Iâ€™ve always loved about bikes is that it is something you can do on your own.Â Sure it helps to have a patient instructor when youâ€™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.Â 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 Iâ€™ve always loved about bikes is that anyone can do it.Â Short, tall, big, small, disabled, injured and, of course, male and female.Â I love that the muddbunnies exists to get women into cycling and especially mountain cycling.Â 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.Â Iâ€™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.Â The ban was put in place in 1996 because, â€œthe activity wasnâ€™t regarded as sufficiently feminine.â€Â Read the article for yourselfÂ here.
It is a travesty that places in the world still have government officials making these decisions and judgments for their people.Â 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.Â Iâ€™m glad the â€œwheels of changeâ€ are turning in N. Korea and even happier that those wheels are bike wheels.