by Louise Bierig
I bought my bike, a $350. Ross mountain bike, twenty-seven years ago, when I was ten. I paid for it with the earnings from my lawn mowing business. As a kid, I rode it around the neighborhood, with occasional trips to town or nature trails.
When I went to college in Iowa, my bike became my primary mode of transportation to my classes and job. When, after graduation, I drove myself out to California, the bike, hitched to a rack, continued to catch my eye as I glanced back through the rear view mirror.
In California, I rode the streets of Berkeley and joined in Critical Mass rides where cyclists took over the streets at rush hour. I biked the Ohlone Trail, which followed the underside of the Bay Area Rapid Transit tracks, listening to the whoosh of the trains as they sped overhead.
When I moved to Media, my bike came along, and I learned to navigate the least bike-friendly streets I’d ridden.
Always my bike was a symbol of freedom, a quick way to get around and a good way to exercise.
One day in 2006, I got my tires stuck in the trolley tracks on State Street and found myself crashed in the street. Some Delaware County Ladies saw me crash and shrieked. More embarrassed than hurt, I jumped right back up and pedaled away.
Although my only injury was a large bruise on my leg, I left my bike parked in the barn. Someone told me I needed to buy a bike helmet. Suddenly, bike riding felt too daunting.
Then my life entered a period of illnesses, injuries, and surgeries. I also had a baby. There were a few years where I simply could not ride a bike. I still felt overwhelmed by the basic act of buying a helmet and getting my bike tuned up.
Slowly, the timing started to feel right again. My two-year-old son wanted a bike, which we ordered by mail. Then we went to the Schwinn shop to buy him a helmet. He picked out another for me-blue to match his. We wore them around the house while we waited for his bike to arrive.
That summer I rode my in-laws bikes at the shore, then while on vacation, rented a bike with a child seat and rode my son around the state park.
It wasn’t long before I wanted the freedom of my bike again. I also had some time dollars so I contacted Ira Josephs, local bike enthusiast, and laid out my plan: I wanted my bike fixed up, a child seat installed, and my old bike rack mounted on my car. Ira said he could do it all. In the meanwhile, someone on the TTM Swap Board donated a child seat to me.
A week later, my bike was all set. I paid Ira three time dollars and was off on my bike again, free to ride through the neighborhood, into town for festivals and playgroups, and along Ridley Creek, watching the autumn leaves fall into the creek. We sang as we rode through the tunnel and my son cheered me on, “Fast, Mom. Go fast!”