Columnists — 11 April 2012

“Everybody, I know you can believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you will know how to ride a bike!”

By Martin Wightman

With this phrase, a now famous Youtube video gave us all a reminder of our childhood euphoria at the moment of successfully riding a bicycle. The young, newly minted bike rider exclaims “I feel … I feel happy of myself!”

We will all forgive him for his faulty syntax, I’m sure, since he expresses that feeling that wells up in the young soul: a sense of accomplishment and maturity. He goes on to give an inspiring monologue that encourages all of us to learn to ride a bike, culminating with the now viral phrase “thumbs up everybody, for rock and roll!”

If you have not seen it, you have at least one ready-made awesome day waiting for you. A heart of pure granite would be required not to crack a grin. And connecting rock and roll to learning the bicycle is surely a gem of wisdom, in its own way.

Learning to ride a bike has taken on an iconic cultural significance. It is considered our North American ceremony, initiating us into independent childhood. Commercials, among other mediums, still seek to tap into our nostalgia for that moment of release when the parent lets go of the seat, and the child goes rolling away, wobbly but brave.

Along with turning sixteen, getting your driver’s licence, and becoming a voting, tax-paying adult, there are few rites of passage as excellent as learning to master the bicycle. It’s too bad that, despite our deep appreciation for the learning of the bicycle, the subsequent riding of it seems to taper off, into adulthood.

Riding bicycles is an all-too-rare pastime in Canada; anyone who has been to Amsterdam Central Station, for example, recognizes that the bicycle enjoys wild popularity in many parts of the world — a popularity that simply does not exist here, even in our urban centres. I suspect that the supremacy of the car, and the necessity of it over the long distances that Canadians often travel, has had a dampening effect on the bicycle.

But, it’s springtime. The time of revolution, independence, new beginnings — time to rock. And bike.

And Dryden, at least, affords plenty of opportunity to bicycle. I can attest to riding a bike both on and in Wabigoon Lake (I would strongly discourage following suit, both for your sake and your bicycle’s sake), and, more often, on the many trails around town. Bicycles are useful as vehicles of utility, if you want to outfit them for it. For the past three years, in season, I have used my bicycle to get my groceries.

Bicycling isn’t just good for your health and for your carbon emissions; it is a way of stating your independence, in a less rebellious way than squealing your tires at a stoplight. Bicyclists represent a more thoughtful, sophisticated revolution, something more like rock and roll than a military coup. One that says “I am independent and free, but I don’t need too much power.”

Citizens with that mindset will always be an asset to their society.

 

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About Author

Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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