Because I Can

Erin Madson - Cheyenne, WY

Because I Can
There was a time when I couldn't ride. I got my very first bicycle when I was 5 and a half, and the next day was hit by a car while riding. Instead of watching the road, the driver had been turned around yelling at his kids in the back seat. It was 1984, and helmets for casual riders were only just starting to be discussed among pediatricians. I wasn't wearing one, and the results were serious (though at 35 mph, a helmet probably wouldn't have saved me from a visit to intensive care). I was lucky to survive, let alone recover. I spent the next 3 or 4 years watching the neighbor kids ride their bikes up and down the block, but it was impossible for me to join in. I felt very left out. When I did start riding again, it was on training wheels. I was embarrassed--what 9-year-old wouldn't be?--but if it was the only way for me to be able to ride, I'd take it. One day, one of my sisters pointed out that the training wheels were barely touching the ground. My dad took them off, and voila! I was riding a 2-wheeler! It had been a very long time since I'd felt so free. Finally, I was a little bit closer to being like everyone else! So I ride because I can. There are lots of people out there who wish they could ride, but can't for a variety of reasons. I have a responsibility to get up and take advantage of the body I am lucky enough to have. I ride for those can't. But look for me to yell at you if you are a cyclist without a helmet or a driver on a cell phone. Some things hit too close to home to ignore!
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