There are many milestones one will reach in their childhood. Some more important than others, but all memorable nonetheless. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between memories that are reality, and those that are twisted fabrications of the mind. However, one memory that stands out vividly is the time I was taught to ride a bicycle. Although learning to ride a bike without training wheels sounds ordinary, it was not the actual act that made it memorable. It was all the associated feelings that came with the accomplishment. All memorable moments require having some degree of emotion associated with it in order for it to become unforgettable. Whether it be a negative experience that you try to subdue in your subconscious, or a positive one that you attempt to relive everyday of your life, these experiences remain with you for the long haul.

It is unfortunate that many people see bicycling merely as a method of transportation, a means to an end. A way of getting from one point to the next in a reasonable amount of time. These ideas barely scratch the surface. Bicycles allow for a thrilling experience, one that will surely be remembered for years to come. There must be something about the way the wind strikes your face, or the way pedestrians seem to glance over at you in respect when cycling. It allows you to stand out from the crowd, and feel comfortable doing it. Although these thoughts were underdeveloped in my young mind back when I first learned how to ride a bicycle, I still understood how much I loved cycling.

A young girl riding a bicycle with the training wheels removed.

I remember coming home from school one afternoon, and seeing my father taking off the training wheels from my bicycle. I looked on nervously, but was excited for what was to come. My mother was standing by the door, waiting for the big moment with a level of worry while my father was concentrating on the task at hand. Those training wheels were meant to make me feel safe. Except nothing made me feel safer, than the guidance of my parents through this process. With one hand hovering my shoulder, and the other one assisting my steering, me and my father traveled up and down the block countless times. It was a beautiful moment of family bonding, that sadly becomes scarce when entering adulthood. The contagious laughs and smiles that were shared between my parents and I that day are unmatched.

At some point after establishing my center of gravity, my father let me pedal with no assistance. I felt free. Now that I think about it, it was strangely movie-like. In my mind, it was as if for every revolution my wheels completed, I came closer to becoming an adult. Having control of when and where I was going was truly a foreign concept to me. As one may anticipate, for much of my childhood, I was confined to the small area of a city block. My older brother did not have this issue, which made me envious. I wanted to belong, to travel, to be the fastest cyclist in the world. This would have been difficult, if I had remained within my preset boundaries.

Luckily, the handlebars allowed me to pave my own path. The bike gears allowed me to travel at my own pace. The seat made me feel comfortable handling something new. The frame supported me in a time of uncertainty. The brakes provided me with a safety mechanism if I were to ever feel unsettled. All while the annoying light reflectors gave my parents a sense of security. The one part that did not fit my ideal equation, were the training wheels. These so called “stabilizers” made me feel slower, unaccomplished, and put a serious damper on my street credit. These nuisances have had been with me for a long time prior to their extermination, which was evidently shown by their bent out of shape form.

The closest resemblance of my first mongoose bicycle that I have found.

After these limitations were stripped of their power over me, I began to zoom along the sidewalk on my mongoose bicycle with a proud smile of my face. I can still recall the sound of me passing over the loud New York City cellar doors on the sidewalk, as well as the wind blowing my hair away. Forward a couple of years, and now my parents are afraid of the potential dangers associated with cycling. It is interesting how with age, things become more precious. Worries grow as we grow with them. You never truly understand the importance of a moment, person, place, or thing until you grow up and look back upon it.

The training wheels, no matter how safe they made me feel, were limitations placed on me. It is true that in order to keep moving forward, one must remove themselves from the comfort zone, otherwise people become complacent. Complacency is a dangerous territory to be in considering it often destroys any potential of forward thinking and progress. I refused to settle for training wheels. Once the extra wheels were off, I was free to roam around the streets of New York. Unfortunately, it was under supervision and only in a one block radius of course. There were many emotions involved in this learning process, which is why it has become so memorable to me. Nervousness, joy, worry, and relief, were all expressed in a short amount of time. When you think about it, there are many times throughout life where you first learn to ride a bike. The first time traveling alone. The first time asking out your crush. The first time moving out. These are all firsts that people will never forget due to their emotional output. Since everyone is different, there is no right or wrong when it comes to memorable experiences. Experiences are personal, therefore no one can suggest something to you that they cannot fully comprehend.

One of my negative experiences that does not hinder my positive thoughts on cycling.

Memories are also reinforced throughout our day to day life. I have had stitches on my leg from a cycling accident, which despite its negative connotation, built upon my long lasting memory that is bicycling. I was trying to stand out, much like when I first learned to ride. A small child, looking for his place in the world. I began to ride my bicycle with one hand while looking back at a friend. This proved to be a scarring mistake. I cut my leg open about one inch in length, and half an inch in diameter, after falling on my one of my bicycle’s pedal. I remember feeling discouraged because of the careless mistake, but now feel as if it was a valuable experience that showed me that there is always two sides to a memory, and those sides are constantly battling for bragging rights.

Cycling is not any one thing. It is a sport, a hobby, a job, a form of exercise, a method of transportation. I choose to let it be a memory. Although it has been several years since I last owned a bicycle, I still recall the numerous experiences I have had. From inattentive motorists, to high speed races, to the many injuries sustained, these memories give me the opportunity of reliving them any day of my life. They are lessons that needed to be learned, and they are times that needed to be remembered. Memories allow for individuals to grow, because by accepting and embracing the past, you can move on to be the best version of yourself possible.

Although it is undoubtedly unfortunate how quickly and inadvertently one can grow apart from something that once had so much personal meaning, no one can ever take your memories away from you. Reminiscing on things that were once close to your heart can certainly make life feel much more meaningful. These objects, places, or people can make your perspective of the future more optimistic by helping you accept previous hardships and embrace the tranquil moments that life gives you.

My friends and I (right side with black shirt) enjoying a nice bike ride on a sunny day.
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