Sarai Snyder over at Girl Bike Love is promoting Cyclo Femme – a day to encourage women to get back into the saddle and ride. One of the ways she is promoting this event is to ask women, who ride, why they ride. Sarai asked me a week or so ago to contribute one, so I’ve been weeding through my memories to pick a story that’s both accurate and worth repeating.
One of the reasons I began riding was because I wanted to follow in the adventurous footsteps of my mother. My mom cycled quite a bit growing up in Liverpool. She belonged to a cycling club, which included people with all sorts of ranges of talents and bikes. One guy was all but semi-pro and went to the Tour de France one year. My mom rode a 3-speed, racing green, Raleigh Hercules. She said Liverpool had several clubs and many of the smaller towns nearby also had their own so the roads would be busy on a Saturday morning as all the clubs began their rides. I can just about imagine the roads clogged with cyclists after watching the string of vibrant colored spandex cycling out of Boulder on a warm morning.
A common ride for her club was to ride from Liverpool to Wales, stay overnight and then cycle home. It was a big ride for her. She was in her early teens and the route covered 50-odd miles round trip and involved a ferry ride. She said her younger brother, Bill, once fell asleep on his way home from one such ride. They would ride through Betws-y-Coed and rent space in barn from a farmer.
When I began to ride beyond my neighborhood streets, I imagined myself cycling down country lanes, passing into ANOTHER COUNTRY and stopping at quaint country pubs for rest. The reality, of course, was quite different. I grew up in San Antonio, which is ranch, truck and football country. It has changed tremendously since I was riding along but during the early 80′s and 90′s, there was nothing particularly quaint about my rides. But they were adventures in their own way. Some rides took me into the leafy, well-healed streets of Alamo Heights (a small, wealthy, annexed part of SA) ; others straight downtown past San Pedro Park (the oldest park in San Antonio) for a swing by Charles E. James bike shop (the oldest bike shop in San Antonio) and then past the Alamo and other major landmarks. I actually felt safer cycling downtown because there wasn’t a whole lot of activity going on down there; San Antonio’s downtown was quite vacant at the time.
Many years later, I live in one of the best cycling areas (that doesn’t have a cycling culture) in the country and get to experience more closely her stories of adventure. But it was her stories of riding with her brother, through the countryside that began my affair on two-wheels.