I once faced the question of just how was I to grow up and be a big boy here in the hometown.
Not by starting school; that did not make me feel like a big boy. Not by playing sports.
No, before those came along I began to forge an identity and to build a sense of accomplishment by riding my bikes.
From the tricycle that came from the old Sears catalog store in downtown Elkin to the two-wheeler with training wheels to my big-boy, red -and-white Western Flyer, biking presented my first challenge. And I couldn’t wait. I wanted to ride and ride I did.
Riding the trike through the house was a breeze. I quickly learned to make the sharp turns around the coffee table. But once the weather warmed and the tricycle was banished to the outdoors, the gravel driveway made pedaling slow and tiring. A setback.
So I moved on to the two-wheeler with the training wheels. Though Mom was skeptical come time to take off the training wheels, it only took a gentle push or two for me to learn to balance on just two wheels. Within a half-hour I was on my way.
I got a little speedometer for the bigger Flyer some time later, and soon I was drag-racing down an old dirt road behind the house and trying to best my prior top speed.
My bikes were my best buddies, and on them I took command of the hardtop road and then of life.
Now comes word that Appalachian State University in Boone will offer for the first time college courses on riding a bike. A Traffic Skills 101 class debuted Saturday.
That’s right. What I mastered as a little kid now is college-level instruction. You never knew that I was so accomplished so early in life, did you?
“Our goal is to help people feel more secure about getting on a bike, to create a mindset that bikes are treated as a vehicle, and to ensure that people on bikes know how to ride safely and legally,” according to an ASU website. Half of the eight hours of instruction will be spent riding a bike.
Upon course completion, students get a certificate but not college credit. Non-ASU students can sign up.
I almost hate to see adults take over what had been a province of kids. Adults already have complicated bicycling by requiring helmets and popularizing fancy riding wear, including those tight, short pants that look so odd.
At the same time kids are losing interest in the thrill and accomplishment of bicycling around home and neighborhood. Instead they are turning to passive passions for video games and smart phones and such.
What a shame. For there’s nothing like taking off in life as a kid and moving out into the world with the wind in your hair and a baseball card clipped to the back spokes and riding and riding and riding your bike.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
Back In The Hometown