Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Cyling and my first taste of freedom
I learned to bike in, of all places, Burnham park in Baguio City (that's a province in the northern mountain region in the Philippines). We were on summer break, probably first grade then, and to escape the heat of Manila my folks decided to bring us all to the City of Pines, Baguio's other name. I don't remember the name of the rent-a-bike guy who served as my one on one instructor as well. All I remember was getting on an easy rider (those were the cool bikes for kids back in the day), placing my two feet on the pedals, and the guy on the bike just pushed me on. He was holding on to the back of the seat as I pedalled away, knowing that he was helping me with my balance (in effect he was the human training wheels) and we just cycled around the oval, which was a segregated area for bikes only. I was so nervous. I kept looking back at the "trainer" and each time I did, the bike would wobble as I would temporarily lose control of my steering and I would be weaving around the lanes. But the guy never lost his cool, he just kept holding on to the back of the seat to keep me upright and continued to say "tingin lang sa harap, huwag sa gulong, sa harap lang kung saan mo gustong pumunta" (look ahead, don't look down at the front wheel, look to the direction you want to go). Then without me knowing, the guy let's go and I am on my own. When I looked back, I saw him a few feet away from me, of course I panicked, my steering wobbled as my confidence did the same, but he just kept saying "tingin lang sa harap. So I just kept pedalling away and boy was I proud of my accomplishment. I can't explain it, but I guess it's as close to pure joy as one can come.
When we got back to Manila, my dad got me my first bike from the neighborhood bike shop. It was an easy rider, electric blue, and in my eyes she was a beauty. I'd always find an excuse to go to that bike shop. I didn't have much money but I'd always get a sticker or reflector, or have my cotter-pins replaced (yes cranks used to have cotter-pins) or just ogle at the other bikes and all the stuff they had.
I also got to know some of my biker neighbors. We were a group of three, all on easy riders, and we'd be riding around during weekends and summer break, rain or shine. We just kept biking for fun. We biked everywhere (at that time everywhere was the village we lived in and the immediate surroundings), until we got tired, thirsty or hungry which served as our signal to head back home. It was also much safer then, so our parent's didn't mind us cycling our days away.
Boy, did we feel free. Biking really gave us our first taste of independence and freedom. Simple pleasures. I've kept biking ever since.
The photo above is not my own, but our bikes were something like that, cool huh? :)