When I was a kid in Southern California, “let’s go for a ride” usually meant a long family drive through the mountains or skirting the desert basins far outside of the city. Sometimes, we would take curving cliffside roads that afforded a view of the Pacific. The vistas were incredible, though generally relegated to the opposite side of a window, and came at the cost of a few gallons of gas and the risk of motion sickness.
Now, “let’s go for a ride” has a different meaning. Once spring finally muscles winter out of the way and everyone is eager to get outside, my daughter and I strap on our helmets and hit the Roanoke River Greenway on our bicycles. Each year, there’s more of the greenway to explore. It is as if small, secret parts of our city are constantly being revealed, opening themselves up for adventure.
Penelope loves the freedom and speed of the bicycle. She loves moving under her own power, and she loves the real sense of growing stronger she gets each year as she’s able to ride faster, for longer distances, and up steeper hills. I, of course, simply enjoy being along for the ride and sharing these experiences with her.
Some of the best parts of the trip, though, having nothing to do with riding, but come from the spontaneous moments of discovery that being on a bicycle allows:
- Coming across a bridge and deciding, all of a sudden, that what we really want to do is hop off the bikes and explore the banks along the stream that runs underneath it.
- Stopping to watch a heron stalk a stretch of low water, dipping its head under the surface as it hunts for fish.
- Making friends with a tailless stray cat who has taken up ownership of nearby playground.
- Drowsing in the grass, helmets still on, watching the clouds drift past the tree branches high above.
What you can do on a bicycle that you can’t do in a car is stop, right where you are, and explore. You never have to worry about your kids spotting something fascinating, only to have them struggle to describe it long after you have driven past. You can take a moment to appreciate the small and sudden. Best of all, you can let your child take the lead, and their curiosity take the wheel.
Visit http://www.ridesolutions.org to see how you can get out and ride this summer!
Written by Jeremy Holmes