I’m convinced that my father is a wizard.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t get along very well with most types of sports or sporting equipment. They also know that balance and hand-eye-coordination aren’t necessarily my “thing.” I’m the girl who falls up the stairs, who was never graceful enough for ballet but not coordinated enough to be good at basketball. I’m the girl who breaks her arm playing soccer—a sport that the majority of the world, appropriately, calls football. A day without some altercation with gravity is a good one in my book.
Be it by the grace of God or Lance Armstrong, my father taught me—the girl who has ripped one too many pairs of jeans falling all over this campus (ask my roommates if you want the full story)—how to ride a bike.
There I was, standing a foot-and-a-half shorter than now and adorned with a full set of matching, pink padding. It was just me, my dad, and the little trail of asphalt that wound behind our apartment complex. We had been practicing on the grass of an adjacent baseball field but this was the big leagues, a 7-year-old’s Tour de France if you will. The training wheels were off, quite literally, and on that warm spring day a younger, chubbier version of me flew down that strip of asphalt on two wheels, by myself, with my dad cheering in the background.
This week, I rode my bike to class for the first time and, I can tell you, not much has changed.
It is still just as exhilarating to feel the wind in your hair, to propel yourself past walkers and joggers with the almost effortless turn of a pedal. I wove in and out of traffic not unlike dodging sticks and cracks along that sidewalk. My dad, in the form of a text message, was delighted to hear that I had been enjoying my most recent birthday present. I was happy to be fast, to be flying on both occasions—just this time I was without a few pads and with a few inches.
Although my only bike route has been to and from campus, navigating that little stretch of Boston, balanced on two wheels, has given me a new sense of mobility—literally.
Somewhere in between the sidewalker and the highway driver, the Boston biker seems to come out on top. Boston, a concentrated city with a few long stretches of road that lead right into its epicenter, lends itself to this median mode of travel.
Just this past weekend, Boston celebrated its bikers with the 11th annual Hub On Wheels event. Run in conjunction with Boston Bikes, the city’s initiative to foster support and accessibility for bicycles, Hub On Wheels is a yearly event that provides almost unlimited access to some of the city’s most trafficked streets, exclusively for cyclists.
The event offered clear courses of 10, 30, and 50 miles that wound through some of Boston’s most iconic neighborhoods and all began and ended at City Hall Plaza. With Harpoon Brewery, Chipotle Mexican Grill, David’s Tea, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, as official sponsors, the entire city came together to foster the Hub’s potential for a stronger cycling culture.
Although it has been a few years—and a few crashes—since I first learned to ride a bike, my most recent birthday present has cleared a new path in my perspective of Boston. With the click of my bike lock and the whir of the two wheels, I have recently rejoined a more mobile community just a few states away from home.
In just a few pedals, I have found a new sense of camaraderie gliding over crosswalks and staying in line with the bike paths—which I intend to follow farther than just Foster St. So watch out for a wobbly white bicycle veering down Commonwealth Ave. as I continue to explore Boston by bike.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphic