Today was the first day of the year that I rode to school with the kids. While the ride isn’t very far, about 2 miles, it’s a great reminder of how important bicycles can be to a young child. My son, William, is at that age where he is looking for personal freedom and the bicycle is a great way for him or any young man or girl to get a sense of freedom riding to a friends house or to school in the mornings. For now, I’ve been riding with him to make sure he is staying safe but I can see the writing on the wall that soon enough he will be cruising all over Lake Highlands without Dad following a few yards behind him making sure he looks both ways at intersections.
Thinking back on my experience with bike riding at the same age as my son right now (10 going on 11) I can remember riding my bike everywhere and it was at that age I began to develop a new sense of freedom and discovery only provided by a bicycle. Growing up in Northern Virginia, Annandale specifically, I would sometimes ride up to the Wakefield Chapel Recreation Center and the nearby mountain bike trails or just ride on the sidewalk between Little River Turnpike and Braddock Road, the two major streets I knew I wasn’t allowed to cross. These were my borders and I can remember riding almost every day around the neighborhood and having a great time just being a kid. Most of the time I stayed within my “approved” boundaries but I can fondly remember a few of the times when I ventured outside these boundaries to explore and have some fun.
One of my hopes for my kids is that they will be able to grow up enjoying riding bikes as much as I have even if they don’t make a career out of it as I have.