About Biking: in which our 12 year old son serves up fresh car free perspective.

This post and pictures are by the 12 year old cyclist from the iBikeuBike family. Many days he logs up to 20 miles for transportation and recreation. He is home-schooled with an intense interest in theoretical physics, literature and all things living.

About Biking

I love biking for so many reasons. I feel a sense of freedom that I cannot have in a car. Bike speed is directly connected to my own power and my own limits, not to the cars themselves or the speed limits. On a bike, I can observe the world directly. For example, in the last few months, I’ve seen snakes, rabbits, ducks and falcons. I’ve picked wild morels, a rare and delicious delicacy, which we spotted near the road. We would have never seen from a car in fact, most people riding in cars have no clue what they are missing.

I know I will never buy a car, and I don’t know why anyone would. So many children and teens ride bikes. I would think that after that biking experience they would not want to be constrained in expensive metal boxes. There are so many pedal-powered options, such as bicycles, tricycles, tandems and surrys. There are even pedal-boats and pedal-planes!

I seem to remember every ride, short and long. Each ride has something memorable. Once, on our way to a berry farm, over the highway, my tire started to go flat. In the boiling heat, my mother and I quickly rode to the farm, along side which my mother changed her first flat tire. Unfortunately, by the time she was done, the farm was closed, and we had to go back home. Another time, during the cooler days, we biked the five miles to our favorite grocery store. We took a test ride on an unpaved trail, which took us two miles out of our way. It turns out that two miles is a long way, when the sunny sky bursts into tears and soaks through your “waterproof” rain jacket. The bags on the back of our bikes, which we had sprayed with a waterproofer, proved unreliable and filled with water. But still, bicycle riding, I think, is one of my favorite things in the world to do, especially before bed.

There are so many reasons, biking is healthy for the environment, healthy for me, if I can bike, really, so can you.

I have written a bicycle song for your pleasure. (hopefully – it’s my first)

I bike o’er roads through lively wood
Beauty unsurpassed by all
Yet as I pass through a glade
The forest, she fades
And ere long wither to scrub

O’re the scrub and thorn I bike
With but my family beside
The scrub withers to mead
If we survive the century
My dog walks himself

O’re the mead and fallow I bike
A phalanx of neighbors beside
The mead withers to fen
If we survive the decade
I sunder the mountains

O’re the fen and tussock I bike
My townsfolk peddling beside
The fen withers to stone
If we survive the next year
I fly through the air

I glance round at the barren waste
And the faithful bikers beside
The earth she rejoices
And be wholly assuaged
The forests shall flourish once more

I bike o’re roads through lively wood
Beauty surpassed by but one
For the wood wrought to glory
By the simplest deeds
Whose beauty surpasses the wood

It Means So Much !!

Over the past few weeks, our iBikeuBike family has been following, supporting and cheering for Ride to Read cyclist, Kasia, on our twitter feed. Kasia is traversing Europe, solo, on a bike, in an effort to raise $10,000 and to raise awareness for World Literacy Canada, which supports literacy education for women and children in India. Her travel blog is a pleasure to read and gives lots of details about the project. Or better yet click here for the official Ride to Read video!

Currently Kasia is half way through her $10 for 10 days promotion to help boost fundraising efforts as she nears her destination. Today we need YOU to donate $10.

Here are a few compelling reasons why:

Literacy  Take a moment to reflect on how reading has changed your life… or how your life would be if you could NOT read! Pretty amazing, huh? Spreading the gift of literacy is the thrust of this fundraiser!
Cycling  It is just so cool. Supporting two-wheeled locomotion is awesome!
Women  For women’s cycling, for women’s literacy… it’s about solidarity. Women understand that our daughters’ future will be built upon the accomplishment of women today!
Comfort  Kasia is pulling her weight (literally and figuratively!) Let’s all skip one comfort today, whether it is that latte or a rental movie, and donate those bucks to the cause. Be a Rock Star! Make the donation!
Meaning  Magic happens when people from different communities join together for a singular cause. $10 will not matter much to your budget 10 days from now… but being a part of the greater cause will resonate because “It just means so much.”

While pregnant with our firstborn, we spent a family vacation (husband, brother, mother and father) running the Honolulu Marathon for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as part of Team in Training. Training for and running your first 26.2 mile race is challenging and sometimes downright grueling. Shin splints, sore knees, blisters, chaffing in spots that are never supposed to chafe were second only to the joys of pregnancy, including morning sickness 24 hours a day, and stopping to pee for every sip of water…I’ll spare you any more details!

There were plenty of moments I wanted to quit, but our commitment to the fundraiser kept me going. After a while, I was driven by a sense of power, accomplishment and a high that came from pushing my body and mind past its comfort zone to the next level of possibility. It was as if I had awoken a giant, the sleeping one that lives inside my 5’3” frame, and lies dormant in all of us.

Fundraising from a grass roots level like Kasia’s Ride to Read is a completely different endurance sport. It’s really challenging, and she needs our help!

We suffered through Arizona heat hosting yard sale after yard sale; we sweated through concession sales at football games and car washes; anything to raise a buck and raise awareness for our cause. The fundraising effort made our 20-mile training runs look easy!

But oh, the people who reached out and touched our lives!

There was the elderly man who donated $20 at a yard sale, buying nothing. He shook my hand, crystal blue eyes tearing as he thanked us for inspiring him. There was the 25-year-old widow who didn’t run, but volunteered anyways. She had married the love of her life… after he had found out his diagnosis was terminal, just so they could be husband and wife before he died. Our special “honor patient.” We ran in honor of five-year-old Patrick. I remember him, his little head bald from the trauma of chemotherapy, which didn’t damper the most beautiful, infectious smile or those eyes that twinkled with mischief.

Through the heartache and the tragedy of others, so deeply scarred by Leukemia or Lymphoma, we were gifted with deep and meaningful purpose for our efforts. One teammate explained it to me best, with tearful eyes, why he ran marathon after marathon: “It just means so much.”

The Ride to Read cause of literacy for women and children in India reminds me of our past efforts because it…means so much. I know the joy and pride I felt upon finishing the marathon. It was a shared victory for myself, my family, all of those special individuals who had supported us along the way.

Let’s join together to make this finish line experience a reality for Kasia on her Ride to Read. Head over to the Ride to Read website with me right now and pledge at least ten bucks. You will be glad you did.

Talk about it, tweet about it, and infuse your day with meaning from this simple act of kindness.

Thank you so much!

Out of the Box

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I figure I’ve spent most of my life in a box. Boxed up in a house, in a school, in an office, in a store or in the glass, plastic and metal confines of a car; it’s all box time.

The transition to car-free living is like being mounted on a spring and catapulted out of the box. Every day, whether on foot or on our bikes we must venture out. The days of vacantly transferring our corpse-like bodies from work to school, to car to garage, to box to box are gone.

The morning was rough as the pothole, pocked and cracked roads we ride. My three children were in rare form, being both rambunctious and as slow as molasses on a cold day. Getting them out the door I assumed my usual role as the octopus drill sergeant, juggling backpacks, rain jackets, lunchboxes and children while barking orders to the troops.

The barometer was pitted against me; the forecast: cold, wet and windy. My shoulders constricted up to my ears, the tension settling into my face, to call me dour would be a loving compliment. I get the two little ones buckled in the bike trailer and my oldest I take to our bikes and pedal out. Outside.

The magic begins before the garage door has creaked closed. My breathing syncs to the rhythm of bike as the furrows in my brow soften. For the first time in the day, I feel aware. My eleven-year-old son pedals beside me; his cheeks glow rosy from the cold and exertion of the ride. I can’t believe the change in 5 months, transforming him from sluggish and soft to this young man before me. He is strong and lean, confident on his bike. Outside we are equals. Bicyclists.

Usually shy, my five-year-old is singing at the top of her lungs. Outside she is free of inhibition, a happy bird singing her morning song. Her one-year-old brother is nestled beside her. Outside he is content and relaxed. “Content” is an achievement for this non-stop powerhouse.

The streets are quiet; a few poor souls putter by at 35 mph locked inside their boxes. I pity them. Their faces are dour and their shoulders hunched around their ears like mine were in the box. They haven’t had the chance to be outside. We stop short as one wheels in front of us, brushing her teeth furiously, while texting on her cell phone. My son lets out a guffaw. She never even noticed us. Most of them don’t.

“We wouldn’t have seen (fill in the blank) if we had been driving.” Has become my children’s favorite saying. Today it was the circle of Morel mushrooms the oldest spotted by the schoolyard. My five-year-old wonders out loud who planted the hundreds of blossoming cherry, apple and dogwood trees? She says they surely weren’t here last year. At least we didn’t notice them from inside our boxes.

What else did we miss while doing box time? Pushing through the perceptual barrier of convenience and comfort has driven home the adage “out of the box”, and this Jack-is-not-going-back-in-the-box.

Venture out of the box and tell us about it! Join the revolution!

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