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Riding into 2020

January 20, 2020

It's been 26 years in the making, but 2020 will be the year I finally learn to ride a bike - with the library's help of course.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Emily, how did you never learn to ride a bike? What kind of sheltered life did you lead as a child? Let me first say that my brother and I ran around like crazy in our neighborhood. There were very few days where we weren't outside playing in the yard or heading to the lake down the street or running off into the woods behind our house. As long as we told Mom where we were going, we were good. We climbed trees, chased squirrels, and played in the mud: it was awesome.

I remember that when my brother started riding a bike, I desparately wanted to ride one too. He could jump on that thing and race off to meet his friends who lived down the street. It gave him speed and it gave him freedom. What more could you want as a kid? 

The bike I finally got when I was 6 was pink and purple with tassels on the handlebars. It was a dream come true. It had training wheels on it, and while I was slow and wobbily, it kept me upright for the most part. I was well on my way.

And then, tragedy struck. We were heading over to the lake one afternoon to see if we could find any turtles. It was hot, and since I could stay upright for the most part, we ventured out on bike. The way to the lake was strange; you had to go down a massive paved road and then head up a very steep hill to get to the lake, and as we came upon the steep downward hill, I thought, "Oh this will be fun."  

As I started my trek downward, I started to pick up speed at an alarming rate. The belief I held that I was invincible came crashing down around me, and I was certain these were my last moments. I gave up steering and tried to put my feet down to stop myself and wound up veering into a gravel pit on the side of the road. A training wheel caught on one of the rocks, and I flew up and over my tasseled handlebars. 

In reality, it must have been just a small, low-speed accident because I walked away from it with only a scratch on the palm of my hand and a couple of bruises, but it felt like the end of the world to me. I don't remember how I got home exactly, but I cried the whole way there.

After that, I didn't touch the bike. We moved, and then moved again, and I went outside less and less. I started looking at more and more screens, a by-product of growing up, but sad nonetheless. And over time, I completely forgot what it was like to enjoy the great outdoors.

But I'm ready to make a change in 2020. I'm ready to get back on the, uh, bike. I have a loaner bike from my mom, an excellent manual on best practices and bike maintenance called Just Ride, and few free Saturdays where I can ride and fall off as many times as I need to until maybe one day I don't fall. I'm ready to try at the very least.

I also want to take long walks and start a garden and put my phone down, all with the help of some stellar books of course. In other words, I want to get outside. If you're like me and you're craving the open air, check out some of these titles to help you keep your resolutions.


Whatever you plan do to this year, or this decade even, go forth knowing it is always okay to fall down and it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get back up - just get back up.


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Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.