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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on October 25th, 2011, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 12, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 12, Issue 34

Will bike for freedom

Krider once roamed the neighborhood on his bike´┐Ż

By ROB KRIDER

When I was a kid, freedom was a four-letter word: bike. I rode my bicycle everywhere and anywhere. The only rule at my house was “be home before dark.” Other than that, I was on my own to explore neighborhoods, buy Slurpees, or get run over by trucks. I learned a lot about life riding around the city on my bicycle. I learned that if I rode as hard as possible and then locked up my rear brake I could leave a really cool, long, black skid mark on the sidewalk. I always seemed to leave that skid mark in front of that old lady’s house down the street, because she was the one who hated the BMX graffiti the most. Riding my bike, I also learned balance, how to kick out my rear tire and knock over a garbage can, and that cars are hard when you run into them.

One time, I rode my bike six miles to a girl’s house to experience my first kiss—thanks, Christy! I did all of this riding, exploring, and kissing without a single care in the world. The only thing I had to watch for was the sun, to make sure it didn’t set before I could pedal myself home. And here comes the shocker (parents cover your children’s sensitive eyes for this): I did it all without wearing a helmet. By today’s safety standards, it is a miracle I am alive.

I also did all of this exploring on my bike without a cell phone so my parents could call to check on me. I certainly didn’t have a cell phone with GPS capabilities so my parents knew where I was at every given moment just by checking an app on their iPhones, which was good because a lot of the time I was TPing some girl’s house—sorry, Christy!

When I was a kid, Evel Knievel was my hero. I used to build ramps for jumping my bike and imagine I was Evel clearing the Grand Canyon. The ramp had rusty nails and was poorly constructed with wood appropriated from a construction site (which I found while riding my bike). I jumped that ramp all day long and eventually I ended up in the emergency room (I still have the scar on my belly from the bike’s handlebars). The emergency room was a familiar place for me. The nurses were women, and they were sweet. I remember getting a sucker when I would leave with a new scar.

My kids don’t have a clue who Evel Knievel is (may he rest in peace—and it should be noted he died of old age and not in a motorcycle wreck). My kids do know who Tony Hawk is. But they don’t “borrow” wood from a construction site and build skateboard ramps. They play Tony Hawk’s skating video game on the Wii. My kids don’t know what the inside of the emergency room looks like because they’ve never needed a stitch or a cast. It’s pretty tough to injure yourself while playing a video game. The kids have saved me thousands in medical bills, but have they traded safety for life experience?

I still have a bicycle. It’s an old man’s bike, a beach cruiser with a bell and a drink holder. I don’t do wheelies anymore, and I haven’t thrown toilet paper up in a tree in a long time (although maybe I should TP my own house just to show my wife, whom I love, that I’m still interested in her). My kids have bicycles, too. Theirs don’t get near the mileage mine did when I was their age. Do I treat my kids the same as my parents treated me when it comes to exploring on their bicycles? Do I let them take off down the driveway without wearing any shoes and tell them I’ll see them at sundown? Shamefully, I don’t.

When my kids are going to ride their bikes, I have a few requests (OK, they’re actually demands): check tire pressure, check seat tightness, ensure brakes are working sufficiently, helmet on—properly adjusted—reflectors in place, cell phone charged, destination known, call when you leave, call when you arrive, only ride on the sidewalk, no iPod earphones so you can hear traffic, don’t ride during commute times, and the list goes on. The list may seem ridiculous, but most parents these days are going through the same mandates. In fact, most parents won’t let the kids ride solo. Instead, they will ride alongside them, in a panic, as they watch their babies negotiate the smallest imperfection in the roadway.  Have we all become too overprotective? The question is, why did we become so safety conscious?

We have been so inundated with tragic stories about kidnapped or killed children, we are convinced that the moment our children step out the front door a registered sex offender will snatch them up or they will be run over by a drunk driver. Today, versus yesteryear, are there really that many more drunk-driving perverts in our society?

According to the sensationalized instant news these days, the world is a more dangerous place for kids. There is lead paint on their Chinese-manufactured toys, the neighbor’s trampoline is as dangerous as a guillotine, and the purple Teletubby carried a purse. Lock up your babies, America! As for me, I let my kids roll free. Right now, I know exactly where my kids are: skateboarding … in their bedrooms on the Wii.

Somehow Rob also survived the generation of cigarette vending machines and riding around in the back of pickup trucks.




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