My first bike was pink. Light pink. It had a white seat and white plastic covering the handlebars. My Dad taught me how to ride that bike on a summer afternoon on our street in Richfield, Minnesota when I was three years old. I don’t remember much from that afternoon, but I imagine that freeing feeling of riding a bike for the first time was exciting for my little self.
Usually on Christmas Eve, after we’ve been to church, eaten dinner and opened gifts, my family gathers near the fireplace in my parents’ home. Slippers. Fluffy blankets. Popcorn, cookies or hot chocolate. It’s everything we need to get cozy. Then we look at slides. My Dad usually sneaks in a reel or two from the mid-70’s when he and my Mom were dating. He loves to tell stories we’ve all heard many times and my Mom remembers all the unique details about where or when each photo was taken.
But when we get to the 80’s, his eyes light up when the photo of him running beside me holding onto the white seat on the pink bike appears on the projector screen. He always comments, “You were just three… I was so proud of you that day.”
Riding a bike gives kids a sense of adventure and independence. It teaches them about taking risks, practicing a skill and feeling brave trying something new. It’s healthy for their bodies, too. And if you have kids with fierce wills at bedtime like I do, bike riding is great for burning energy after dinner. Just a few weeks ago, my husband got to have the same experience my Dad had 30 years ago. Our son learned to ride his bike free from the little wheels on either side of his back tire. If only you could hear him shout, “Wahoo!” as he pedaled down the street. As parents, there’s nothing we love more than seeing our children giddy, happy and completely overwhelmed in the best way possible when they catch on to something new and show self-confidence.
Do you remember your first bike?
The guy who taught me how to ride a bike is now doing something to make sure all kids get to experience what he and I experienced together as father/daughter. On October 10th, Free Bikes 4 Kidz will be collecting gently used bikes at Allina Health locations all across the Twin Cities. Then, over the next two months, thousands of volunteers will work to clean, repair and tie bows on at least 5,000 bikes. And then something magical happens… in December, all those sparkling bikes will be placed into the hands of kids who need and long for that experience.
FB4K needs you and your families to help make this happen. Donate your unused and outgrown bikes taking up space in your garage. Sign up to wash bikes for a couple hours as a family. Gather your co-workers and spend a morning volunteering together. Bring your youth group. Your neighbors.
How can you help a kid tell his or her story 30 years from now about their first bike?