Our family couldn’t afford much, but when I was 12, I was lucky enough to be given my first bike.
Recovered from a local junk yard, it was all rusty with slightly crooked handle bars. I didn’t care about how it looked. I loved it and couldn’t believe I got my first bike!
I didn’t have anyone to hold me up, so I figured I would push off of a curb and hope for the best. After countless falls, I finally caught my balance and rode around the block. I did it and I was hooked!
After-school activities, lessons, sports, or summer camps were all too expensive for our family. My school friends weren’t allowed to come over to play because my neighbourhood was too rough. It didn’t leave much to do when I wasn’t in school. But I could always go for a spin.
On my bike, I could explore outside of my own environment. I discovered neighbourhoods with trees and grass…no graffiti, no police cruisers rolling through, or cars jacked up on cinder blocks…kids were actually playing in the front yard, parents were outside too….there were parks with no needles or used condoms.
That bike became more than something I could do on a summer day. It opened up my world. It gave me a sense of freedom, confidence, independence and sheer happiness that I still feel today when I ride.
As soon as I could get a part time job, I cashed in my first cheque to buy a “real” bike – a shiny new SuperCycle 10 speed! They built it in store and I rode it home. That day, on that ride, something shifted. I believed I could do anything I set my mind to.
We didn’t always have access to a car, and sometimes, not enough for bus fare, so as a teenager, those wheels got me everywhere – to school, university, to my part time jobs, to meet friends, etc.
I know that without my bike, I would have missed out on so many opportunities.
Today, I am an avid cyclist and biking is my first choice to get me around.
I believe that bicycling can empower individuals, families, and even entire communities. It’s healthy and fun, and it’s good for the planet.
My first bike – a rusty, crooked yellow bike – was a priceless gift of possibility that had a lasting impact on my life.
There are so many kids whose families can’t afford to buy them a bike.
If you can help give a bike to a child who could really use it, I’d love to hear from you