Go and Play

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Cyclists could try out variations on traditional bikes, such as this sneaker bike, at the Tour de Fat in San Francisco.

I don’t remember when the training wheels came off of my bike but once they did I never stopped launching from anything that was raised above ground level. After breakfast I grabbed the milk crate and weathered plank from the garage and dragged them down to the middle of the dirt driveway. The board always perched loosely on the crate and was prone to slipping off if I did not hit it straight on.

The fastest I ever peddled was at that ramp. I never hung in the air. I “jumped bikes” to go fast, get high, and hit the dirt without losing speed. Occasionally I would walk into the kitchen to show off my bloody knees, elbows, and shoulders to my mother. These were my badges, awarded to myself for trying. Later the badges would be given for riding down the mile long “dump hill” with no hands, swooping in and out of the culverts or skateboarding down blind corners, across lanes, and hitting a ramp that shot me across a dirt lawn when I landed.

I don’t remember why I stopped but I wish that I hadn’t. Sure, I could have been safer but when I was a child I lived to conquer obstacles. I jumped off of the barn at least once a week. The trees next to the runs at the local ski slope were meant to be raced through not past. I was never seriously hurt and I loved failing as much as succeeding. Each attempt held endless possibilities of ways I could fall or land on my feet.

This weekend I saw moments from my youth come alive. It was at a gathering of cyclists that still held on to that spark that made them fall in love with riding. It wasn’t about the miles, the exercise, or the gear. That day it was about taking off the training wheels and seeing what would happen next.

What was the last thing that you did just to do it? Let me know in the comments section below.

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