I recently rediscovered the joy of riding a bicycle. Over the past few years I have been taking some time during my week to go for a ride down a country road or through town. It is an enjoyable and easy way to get some exercise. It is also a great way to see things as it is not too fast and not too slow. Not only do I get a lot of exercise from riding my bike but I get the chance to feel like a kid again.

Why do most of us leave our bicycles behind after we head into the so-called more mature ages? Many people believe it is necessary to give up their bicycles as they grow older. What they don’t realize is that this makes no sense at all. What is wrong with staying young and trying to enjoy the things we liked when we were just kids? Not only is bicycling a great way to stay in shape and keep healthy; as a bonus it is also good for your spirit and mind.

I learned to ride a bicycle a lot later than my friends. I remember running alongside the other kids who had their own bicycles. My sister Jackie gave me my first lesson on her bike and although I ended up in a water-filled ditch and actually lost my shoe in this murky stuff I was still thrilled by the experience. I lobbied my parents for a bike and one glorious summer day I went with mom and dad to the Northern Store and picked out my first bicycle and a brand new one at that.

As soon as I learned how to ride well enough I joined my friends to explore my home community of Attawapiskat from one end of town to the other. We made our own paths through the community, across people’s yards, through ditches and we all worked hard at trying to outdo each other by creating a new trail where there wasn’t one before. When we grew bored of being in town we went into the woods to ride the bush trails along the river and we rolled over the rough paths crossing small creeks and rapids stretching our world as much as possible.

When I left Attawapiskat to attend high school in Timmins, I felt as though I could no longer be a kid, part of which meant I was supposed to give up using my bicycle. It was a time when I felt a lot of peer pressure from many people to dress and act a certain way. In this new world of designer clothes and fitting in, it seemed that my childhood activities had no place and that it was time for me to “grow up.” I was separated from my bicycle. Riding a bike was not cool but smoking cigarettes and drinking gave you a place with the gang.

Thank God I have regained my senses and my bicycle is very much a part of my life again. The idea of getting too old to ride a bicycle is obsolete. This is a pleasure and an activity we should always be able to enjoy whether we are young or old. It is easy to get into biking once again. You can pick up a great and durable mountain bike for around $100 brand new or choose an older type at a garage sale or flee market for much less. A lot of bikes I had when I was a kid were not always in the best shape but I still enjoyed them.

I take my bicycle everywhere these days. When I visit Toronto or other large cities to the south I bring my bike as this is a great way to move around on fantastic paved bike trails. Most cities these days have very good trails that are safe and offer many kilometres of pleasant riding. Think about it for a minute… A bicycle as a form of leisure and transportation just makes so much sense. After all, I can travel great distances under my own power and all the time creating no pollution. As a matter of fact it also keeps me in great shape. So if you too have put your bike away because it was time to “grow up” then I suggest you dust off the cobwebs and get right back out there on your very own two-wheeled wonder.