non-biking kids turn into biking adults?

This topic contains 20 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  StuInMcCandless 2 yrs, 10 mos.

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helen s

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Sep 15 2013 at 1:02pm #

“Kids who don’t bike become adults who don’t bike.”

I am curious about this- how many of you came to bicycles later in life- lets make it either at 18 or later.

I rode a lot for getting around until HS, then it was easier to get around in cars, although I did walk a lot too. I started biking again in college as I and most other students at my hippie school did not have cars. It’s been mostly bikes ever since.

Do we need another poll?


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Sep 15 2013 at 3:23pm #

I was a biking kid who came from a biking family. My parents did the one of the very first City to the Shore MS 150s (I served at their personal SAG and morale crew as an 11 or 12 year old) and my dad rode the C&O Tow Canal back in the late 70’s.


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Sep 15 2013 at 4:01pm #

I wish I could claim that my cycling came out of thin air… but the reality is that my mom rode a bike (walked up hills) during college (twelve mile round trip). I think that my parents just about always had a bike in the garage, even if I can’t ever picture my dad riding it even once (and my mom only more recently on one of my bikes along the GhostTownTrail).

I was never really without a bike, except my later teens and the first half of my twenties when I got some weird idea that bikes were kids in my head.

Another thing that sticks out to me was my willingness to walk seven or eight miles as a kid and as a teen as if it was no big thing; many of my classmates thought otherwise. This too was an example learned from mom.


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Sep 15 2013 at 4:22pm #

I didn’t learn to ride a bike until the age of 24 in 2007. I was visiting an au pair in France whom I met in Pittsburgh the previous summer. We were at here parents house in Brittany and I wanted to get out of the house and she told me the only way she would leave was if I learned to ride a bike. Sure enough this was the only motivation I needed! Within two years I got rid of my car, and this past summer I did a trip out west which totaled approximately 2300 miles and 86,000 ft of climbing.


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Sep 15 2013 at 4:25pm #

I didn’t start riding until my late 20s. I wish I’d ridden as a kid, since living in the boonies meant I rarely saw many people to whom I wasn’t related…

Ditto on the multi-mile walking. Even when I came to Pittsburgh in ’94 for college, I was perfectly willing to walk from, say, downtown to Wilkinsburg (as long as there was incentive such as roleplaying games or people who indicated that they found my genetic material desirable…)


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Sep 15 2013 at 5:01pm #

Rode as a child. Trike fixie. Then pushbike, then single speed up to the age 14. Then I got thriple speed in addition to sinlge speed and rode those up to 18. Got into college, got married and put aside all sports aside at age 21. Moved to US and four years later started biking again. And since then (2000) still biking.


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Sep 15 2013 at 5:33pm #

I lived in the boonies as a kid, and rode a 10-speed in my teens for transportation. Then I got a car, and didn’t ride again until my mid 20s when @JustRay got his bike out of storage and started riding again–and I wanted to go along. It was a while longer before I started riding in traffic by myself.


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Sep 16 2013 at 1:52am #

I instigated the thread (the quote in the OP is from a post in the dangerous drain grates thread).

Comparing myself to others growing up, I started out in a large city with sidewalks, where getting around on two wheels was quite common, even if we never left the sidewalk. Neither parent was much about bicycling, but my father was an avid commuter motorcyclist, which wasn’t that common in the early 1960s. I was merely emulating Dad when on my little 20″.

Moving out to the countryside at age 5, I was already an established cyclist, and started riding on the road almost immediately. I’ve posted in another thread about biking up to watch a barn fire when I was six years, five months.

But the kids I shared a bus stop with? None of them biked much. Same situation, we lived within a couple hundred yards of one another, but they didn’t go anywhere on bike, certainly not like me. Come teenage years, I was still biking everywhere. It was only natural that I would add the unicycle to the fleet and start commuting to school on that.

So my original question was, what made me the cyclist and not the others? Denial of fear, I suppose. Parents who allowed me to roam. Parents who taught me what to look out for when on the road. Parents who encouraged me to do useful tasks. (Dad had a post office box in the local village, so it saved him a trip if i could bike/unicycle the mile there.)

Did any of my non-cycling compatriots end up biking later? There were a few, based on who I’m still in contact with on Facebook. Not commuters or distance riders, though. I think that decision was made early, pre-high school. Hence my quote.


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Sep 16 2013 at 11:04am #

I learned to ride a bike (barely) as a kid, but it was a really hilly (not the most fund to climb on a heavy single speed hand me down) neighborhood of stifling pure residential suburban boredom. It kept with the hills and twisties and got more arterial (with no sidewalk as alternate) well before it got anything interesting/fun.

So there wasn’t much motivation. As an adult, I had more motivation. General tiredness, larger wasted pants I was starting to need and didn’t want to buy, traffic to avoid, parking not to pay for. And I had a neighbor and good friend who was an evangelist for biking. End of story for me.

But not everyone will have so complete a turn of motivational circumstances, so yes, what you grow up with does matter and it’s good to get ’em young.

buffalo buffalo

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Sep 17 2013 at 7:42am #

when i was a kid, my dad’s bike had a (very small) child seat on the back, so i must’ve been carried in it when i was a (very small) child, but i have no memory of that.

i got my first bike when i was in 5th grade, as, I think, a christmas present, and pretty much taught myself to ride. Definitely remember being told to stay on the sidewalk, and out of the road–and ignoring this, since many of the roads where i grew up didn’t have sidewalks…
(Of course, I was also told very strongly that i wasn’t allowed to ride without a helmet–a grad-school friend of my mother’s was still in a coma some ten years after being hit by a car without his–but I would frequently ditch it behind a bush at the school down the block from my parents’ house.)

biking was definitely recreational when i was a kid–I frequently walked the three miles to my high school (I could leave later than my bus’s pickup time and still get there on time…), but I don’t recall having ever biked there. College years I oscillated between having and not having a bike–moved just about every eight months for six years; lived in four states in that time, but after I left Oberlin in 2002, I think the bike stayed in my parents’ garage. After moving to pittsburgh, I rode frequently when i lived out by the Co-op, but after moving to the top of Fineview rarely rode for a couple years. Started riding with the nascent Triathlon Club in 2010(?), started riding to work occasionally around the same time, but didn’t start riding daily until the Challenge last year, by which point I was living in Lower Lawrenceville and working in Oakland…


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Sep 17 2013 at 9:00am #

a friend of mine just posted this fb status: her kid “announced “Let’s play Pedal Pittsburgh!” And then proceeded to ride her balance bike along the “race course” while I followed with her trailer flag. I swear I heard her shout “car up,” when a car passed and she even reenacted the HP rest stop.


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Sep 17 2013 at 9:06am #

I still remember my first bike — a girl’s bike, handed down from my sister, painted red by my father. I remember getting the training wheels off. I’ve been riding ever since. When I was a teenager, I was way into bikes, envisioning myself as an adult not having a car, and fantasizing about someday owning a Raleigh Professional Mark IV, with all Campagnolo components (not “Campy”, I wasn’t cool enough to know that abbreviation). Kids used to laugh at me drooling over the 8 1/2 x 11 catalog from some midwestern seller of components (wish I could remember the name).
Now, riding as much as I do, I’m happy with the way things worked out. I drive a car maybe once a week or so. I go on long rides, much longer than I could do as a kid. I can even complete legendary rides like Crush the Commonwealth and maybe someday the Dirty Dozen.


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Sep 18 2013 at 9:47am #

I taught an ex of mine to ride a bike last year at 30 years old. It was scary, but he did it.
I think he just grew up on a busy street in the middle of nowhere and the opportunity to learn was not obvious.


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Sep 18 2013 at 10:42am #

On a side note, most of my childhood bikes were a death trap since I’m the one who made all the brake adjustments and had no clue what I was doing at that age! It’s a miracle I survived! Anyone else get down and dirty with the mechanical adjustments at that age?


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Sep 18 2013 at 11:18am #

I rode a 20″ Spyder bike when I was in grade school. After a short break of about 45 years I started riding again 2 years ago when I moved back to Pittsburgh. Loving it! Spyder bike is gone though.


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Sep 18 2013 at 11:26am #

@db, I broke everything, at least once. Funny how my judgment now, looking back, is so much less harsh than it was then. I thought I was a real doofus. Now, I think I was just growing up to be an engineer.
So, during the French revolution, a priest, a businessman, and an engineer are being executed by guillotine. The priest goes first, and asks to lay on his back, so he can see heaven as he is sent to it. They drop the blade and it miraculously stops just before cutting off his head. The executioners figure he was spared by God, and let him go.
The businessman goes next, figures why not, and asks to lay on his back. Same thing — the blade comes down, stops inches before his neck, they let him go.
Then it’s the engineer’s turn, He also asks to lay on his back. When the blade stops inches before his neck he says, “Oh, I see what’s wrong”, reaches up — chop!


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Sep 18 2013 at 12:08pm #

jonawebb wrote:Then it’s the engineer’s turn, He also asks to lay on his back. When the blade stops inches before his neck he says, “Oh, I see what’s wrong”, reaches up — chop!

LOL yeah… it’s in the blood I guess. I’m in the wrong field.


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Sep 18 2013 at 12:17pm #

Drewbacca wrote:On a side note, most of my childhood bikes were a death trap since I’m the one who made all the brake adjustments and had no clue what I was doing at that age! It’s a miracle I survived! Anyone else get down and dirty with the mechanical adjustments at that age?

I did. :) But I was kind educated by my father since we had a motorcycle and I was near him when he was doing “his stuff”.

All my bicycles back then were either fixed (no brakes) or single speed with coaster brakes. And I learned how to disassemble and service caster breaks and free hub about age 6. About year or two later I assembled two bikes from parts acquired somewhere in junkyard and friends garages and give them to the same friends.


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Sep 18 2013 at 2:39pm #

“On a side note, most of my childhood bikes were a death trap”

I think the combination of shoddy kid bikes, shoddy assembly and then lack of any maintenance skills all contribute to that

I got fed up with a bike of my own, dropped it on the street, stomped on it, (I think other neighborhood kids joined in) and then just left it there and walked home. I think that was around 4th grade?

Then I started rollerblading to school in 5th grade and didn’t really start biking again until the manager at a hardware store I worked at gave me a bike in lieu of raise when I was in 10th or 11th grade

I got my blue Trek when I was a senior, which many people recognize from its wobbly front wheel


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Sep 26 2013 at 7:57am #

We have been flooding the Northside with kids bikes (over 200 now). When they have problems we walk them through the repairs – yet there are no tools or pumps available to them when we are not there.

Over time we hope to change that, as well as develop a straight up program for them to earn a bike. The idea is to get them riding now and support them over time so that they say “It’s what we always did growing up”. By the time they are young adults even more of the on and off-street network will be waiting for their every trip.


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Sep 26 2013 at 1:38pm #

Getting some money to replace all the bad drain grates would help, too. I’ve documented several north-ish ones, many in residential areas. It probably wouldn’t take too long to survey the whole northern part of the city to document the complete set, maybe a neighborhood a day with a bicycle and some recording equipment.

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