Written by Mona Wills - June 2019
As a kid, we never really worried much about whether we had a good fit on the bike or not. If we could pedal it while sitting on the seat, or even just standing on the pedals and wouldn’t permanently damage our crotch area if we had to come to a quick halt it was fine. Right? Did it really matter if you had to bring the bike right up next to the back-porch step to get on the bike? Did it matter if you had a single speed, a 3 speed, or a 5 speed? Did it matter that it was a bike that had been handed down by older brothers or sisters? Probably not. What really mattered was that you could keep up with your riding buddies/friends and that you could ride as long as you wanted or as long as your parents would let you.
I was recently reminded of the age I was when I graduated from the “blue huffy” with the pedals that spun as long as the wheels were spinning, to a gently used single speed girls’ bike that wasn’t a hand me down from someone I knew. It was red and as best as I can remember my dad adjusted the seat a little and then I was “riding off into the sunset”. No more lifting my feet off the pedals when I coasted down a hill to avoid getting my heels scuffed. I was eleven years old and I had just been handed the keys to my freedom.
In what was a turn of fate recently, I chose to sell my trusty and well-loved hybrid bike. I had always thought when the day would come that I was ready to move on to another bike, I’d just keep Emerald. She was my first serious adult bike. The bike I only rode on the trails for an entire summer season. She was my first club ride bike and oh my gosh did I suffer through the winds and hills riding her. She was heavy but not nearly as heavy as the bike from 35 years earlier. Emerald had been the key to my new-found freedom.
I met an eleven-year-old girl, a few inches shorter than me, but the size of a string bean and 46 years younger, that Emerald was intended for. She timidly walked up to her grandpa, watched as he dropped the seat as low as it would go, and then stepped over the top bar. On her tippy toes she put one foot and then the other on the pedals that spun as soon as her feet touched them. Slowly and a bit wobbly she started down the bike path. As she rode off, either her grandpa or dad said, “She looks so much older on that bike.” She turned the bike around, rode back with a bit more confidence, and looked at her grandpa. He said, “Do you like it?” “Yeah”, “Okay, then it’s yours”. She looked at me and said, “thank you”. The smile on her face made my heart swell. It was all that I could do to hold back the tears of joy and sadness. Now this 11-year-old girl has a “new” bike. It will hopefully give her hours and hours of adventures and she’ll find her own kind of freedom that we have all experienced when we ride.
Does it fit? Does it matter?