Biking is freedom.
But as a kid, I was quite content to keep my Barbie glow-up sneakers on the firm ground.
I remember watching my brother and cousins racing around the cul-de-sac, while I sat on the grass with my banana flavored Popsicle. I was no daredevil. And to make matters worse, I was amazingly stubborn. I had made my mind up that if I was still riding with training wheels at 60 years old, it was fine by me.
But my mom knew that being content wasn’t the same as being satisfied. So, one day, she and my uncle decided that sitting on the sidelines was no longer an option.
They clipped a helmet on my head, piled me on a bike, and ran down the cement street, holding onto the back of my seat ever so lightly. I hated it. I hated feeling out of control; the bike teetering back and forth as they yelled, “PEDDLE!” from behind me.
What happened next? If you’re holding your breath…I didn’t wipeout. There was no big crash, or near death experience. But I do remember the sheer and utter terror of balancing on that metal monster. I planted my feet firmly on the ground, teetering just a little. How dare they?!
But after my indignation subsided, I couldn’t get the feeling of ‘flying’ out of my mind. It was addictive. And while I’d never longed for it, I needed more of it. I pretended the whole thing was my idea, as I started to practice balancing on my bike. It wasn’t long before I fell in love.
I was lucky because my grandpa had a garage workshop filled with every tool and bike part imaginable. He built bikes by the dozen, and taught me what it meant to have the patience of a creator.
He also taught me never to hold back on the glam of biking. Why take a single, if you can take a tandem? Why have standard handles when you can have streamers glittering out of each side? The possibilities were endless, and every day his artist mind pushed the limits of what could fit together and create something weird, funky, and wonderful.
I guess it isn’t much of a surprise that, as an adult, I ride a gold Schwinn Mifflin Hybrid. It beautifully catches the sparkle of the sun, reminding me of summers spent at our county fair, where I always obsessed over the carousel.
I’ve named my bike Valkyrie. In Norse mythology this name refers to the women who chose, in battle, who was worthy of eternal glory in Valhalla. As someone who comes from a proud line of Norwegians and Danes, it seemed fitting.
This bike marks the start of a new chapter. I’ve ridden a vintage Schwinn for the past five years, so I’m excited to see the adventures Valkyrie takes me on this year, and beyond.
As an adult, biking offers so much more than being able to ride down the street. It’s a lifestyle that requires you to get off the sidelines, and out on the next adventure.
Biking has carried me from Seattle city parks to French war memorials. While the risk seems considerably less than when I was a little girl, it’s the eternal question that keeps me peddling: “Where to next?”
Emilee is a travel addict passionate about weaving adventure into her everyday routine. A born and raised Seattleite, Emilee is a snow capped mountains and fresh salt air kind of girl, having spent much of her time on the Olympic Peninsula, exploring ocean coves with vampires. She bought her first Schwinn 5 years ago and loves taking adventures around her home city; her DSLR in one pocket, and her instant Fuji film in the other. She’s passionate about the arts and loves classical music, visual art and going to theater productions. In her spare time you can find her travel blogging, buying plane tickets, reading comic books and painting geek art for her Etsy shop.
Follow Emilee on her many travels at @darkkhorsetravel
Check out more of Emilee’s adventures on her blog Darkk Horse Travel
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Emilee rides the Schwinn Mifflin