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Bicycling: From Here to There

Madison is ranked as one of the top cycling cities in the United States.  In fact, the League of American Bicyclists has rated Madison a Platinum Biking City, one of only four cities in the country to receive this recognition.  We have more than 200 bike trails totaling 100 miles, all within the city.  Many more trails stretch out into the nearby countryside.

People in this city are definitely encouraged to bike!  If you don’t have a bike, not to worry — rent a bike from B-Cycle, a bike-sharing program with 40 rental hubs around town and 350 bikes to rent out.

For many people, bicycling is an everyday occupation.  For some, it is their primary means of getting around as well as a source of healthful exercise.  I bicycled for pleasure, exercise, and getting places for many years.

When I was a young girl growing up, my friends and I waited with eager anticipation for the day when we would get our first bicycles.  I was 9 years old when I got mine — a red Shelby bicycle with white trim.  Attached to the handlebars was a woven bicycle basket that my mother had ordered from a magazine ad, made by “the blind.”  It was a beautiful sturdy basket, much better for carrying things than the wire baskets that all my friends had.  I remember, however, that it took some grit on my part to get used to it, and to come to accept and like it.  It’s difficult at that age to be the “only one” when it comes to just about anything.

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Now it has been, probably, at least 20 years since I last rode a bicycle.  I don’t remember why, but, at some point, I stopped.  Part of me has wanted to get back to it, so I recently ventured out to a bicycle shop.  A very helpful young clerk gave me some background on what bicycles are like now days; he found a bicycle that would fit me and encouraged me to try it out in the parking area behind the store.

Disaster!!  I managed to pedal the bike forward for a few yards and then I inexplicably simply stopped, hung upright for a few seconds, and then promptly fell over sideways onto the pavement.  Right out of a Monty Python sketch.   It was like I had lost all those instincts and reflexes that came so naturally in my younger days.  I came back home that day with scrapes and bruises.  I don’t think cycling is destined to become a part of my everyday life again.

So its not quite true that once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you will never forget.  At least not for me.  I do still remember that dress, however.  Yellow and black plaid with ribbon decorating the sleeves and neckline.  Apparently worn on my 9th birthday!  

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