Bikes

Melissa St. Pierre teaches writing and rhetoric at Oakland University in Michigan. Her work has appeared in The Blue Nib, Panoply, 45 Women’s Literary Journal, Valiant Scribe, and Elizabeth River Press Literary Anthology. She has also performed her work in Listen to Your Mother, a literary nonfiction storytelling showcase.

I asked my daughter if she wanted to go ride bikes with me. She ran over and grabbed her helmet. Even though she rides in her trailer, I still have her protect her head, and she wears her red ladybug helmet with pride. “I like keeping my nogginboggin safe!”

We took off.

I pedaled us down our street through the familiar neighborhood.

“Hey, Bug, you want to play eye spy?”

“Yes! I spy with my little eye…a tree! What do you spy mommy?”

“I spy…a red sign!” And I point out a stop sign. She sits too low to see it so I have to stop my bike and show her.

We take off again and I love the feeling of warm breezes and sun as I keep us moving forward.

My bike has been a source of fun and freedom since I was a little girl. Just today, my mom was telling me about the hottest summer she remembers, 1988. I was three. The same age my little one is now. And how I would ride my bike around the yard, through the drought dead grass, creating “roads”.

The civil engineer in me loved creating “roads” well into my preteen years.

Growing up, I lived on a busy main road, so riding my bike in the street, or in my neighborhood wasn’t really a possibility. I didn’t much have a “neighborhood” but I rode my bike in our yard and when my parents rode safely with me, we rode up the main road to the sidewalk and then through town.

As I got older, I could ride my bike during the summer because I could navigate the main road just fine. I rode and rode.

I always called my mom and let her know when I was leaving and I called her when I got home so she knew I was fine and safe.

This was before music, and camera, and… life, could be carried on a phone, so I usually plugged my headphones in and away I could go.

I used that time to imagine stories and work things out in my head. When I didn’t feel like biking, I’d walk, or jog. But biking has always been my favorite.

There’s a reason that “wind in your hair” feeling is so intoxicating.

It’s the way freedom feels.

Today, when my little girl and I set off on our adventure, we blasted music through the neighborhood. I haven’t yet given in and purchased a bluetooth compatible bike radio, but give me time. For now, I wear my “dorky fanny pack”  and put my phone upside down, the speaker ends up. 

While Badfinger was telling us that they’d always be with us, we flew. I felt that same freedom that I felt as a kid.

It was all I could do not to throw my arms out to the sides and close my eyes but I didn’t. I am a mom and I’m not fourteen. I would probably weeble wobble us off the road and into a ditch. My neighbors have enough to talk about, I don’t need to add to their amusement.

My daughter laughed with delight as we made a right turn a little faster than we did yesterday.

I looked over my shoulder and asked her if she was okay.

“Yes, mommy!” And she continued the conversation she was having with Strawberry Shortcake.

It felt good to listen to her laugh as we enjoyed the outdoors together and have a little bit of freedom: together.

I had plans for us this summer. We were going to visit one of the Great Lakes and I was going to wade into the water with her and splash. We were going to go to the park and play on our favorite big red slide. The planetarium was on the list. Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. I wanted to take her to see a friend’s son play ball. Ice cream dates. We have yet to see our friend’s chickens and coop that she made. I planned on having lunch with my parents during the week. We were going to go for walks every day with my dad. Maybe take in my daughter’s first movie?

I had plans.

But it’s 2020, so did the world.

Thank God, I have my bike.

And we have some freedom.

If you enjoyed Melissa St. Pierre’s article, then you might be interested in reading On My Bike: A Pandemical Reverie of Pedalling by Nigel Jarrett.

Now that you're here

The Blue Nib believes in the power of the written word, the well-structured sentence and the crafted poetic phrase. Since 2016 we have published, supported and promoted the work of both established and emerging voices in poetry, fiction, essay and journalism. Times are difficult for publishers, and The Blue Nib is no exception. It survives on subscription income only. If you also believe in the power of the written word, then please consider supporting The Blue Nib and our contributors by subscribing to either our print or digital issue.

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