Sunday last week, on this same lazy day, my nine-year-old daughter Jana and I stared at each other at 4 p.m. to ask what we would do next. We had read three books, tossed the Frisbee at the parking lot, and were looking for an activity more exciting.
“Dad, why don’t we bike? Let’s go to Maria Luisa!” she said.
Our eyes lit up and off we sprinted to open the car’s back door as we snuggled in our two bikes. Upon reaching my mom’s house, we unloaded Jana’s BMX and my MTB.
It didn’t matter that my Trek mountain-bike (MTB) had been used only once in the last 12 months and was dusty, I hopped on the saddle. No helmet. No Lycra biking shorts. I had a sleeveless shirt on and wore slippers.
It didn’t matter. Because as I pushed one leg after the other, I realized something about biking: It makes you feel like a kid!
I’m 36 — decades past childhood — but, each time I zigzag through the road, feel the wind rush against my face, and maneuver the wheels of a bike, I feel rejuvenated. Especially when gliding amidst the setting of trees and overlooking mountains—like in Maria Luisa—you shake your head, smile, and tell yourself how lucky you are to live life.
Why this love for biking?
As I pondered, I found the obvious answer: As a child, I biked and biked.
I recall, as I’ve written on this space many times before, spending summer mornings and weekend afternoons biking. In Bacolod City where I grew up until the age of 14, our family lived in Mountainview Subdivision (not Mountain-bike Subdivision—that would have been too perfect). But, to me, the setting was the perfect: The subdivision was secure, not too many cars zoomed at speeds of 80-kph, we could roam around all day and night and, best of all, there were plenty of friends who pedaled.
And so, I pedaled. Mountain-bikes were nonexistent during the 1970s and early ‘80s and we rode on the most popular frame of those days: the BMX. (I researched the meaning of “BMX” and, for the first time, finally knew what it meant: “Bicycle Motocross.”)
We’d race each other to see who’d reach home first. We’d lift the front wheel and do a “pawili.” We’d paste metallic stickers around the steel frames. We’d stop at the curb and hunt for spiders (“damang,” we call them in Ilonggo) or park our “cars” then pull out our red Coca-Cola yoyos then do the “Walking the Dog.”
All these memories came rushing back last Sunday…..
For here’s a realization I made: Children should bike! Like learning to read or being taught Tagalog, all children ought to be required to ride bikes.
Sadly, this isn’t what we see now. Today, when children wake up, they switch on the TV. While eating, their eyes are glued on… the TV. While doing homework, more television. And, to help some children fall asleep, guess what they need? The TV’s sound.
Unlike the old days when we had to “do things,” today it’s a “sit back and enjoy” generation.
What’s my point in all this? Take your child biking. Uproot him from his soft seat fronting your LCD screen watching Nickelodeon. From a “sit back and enjoy” position, make him “sit up on a bike.”
I know that, unlike many cities in America and Europe, for example, where they have dedicated biking paths—we don’t. But you can be creative and find other safe locations.
If you reside near Talamban, take your child to Family Park and circle the grass field. Or, during early mornings when traffic is slow, go to the I.T. Park and roam the side streets there together. If you live inside a subdivision, lucky you. That’s the perfect location to pedal side-by-side. Or, is your son a teenager? Perfect! Buy a mountain-bike and ride up Busay together.
Because while the rains have arrived, it’s still summer break. Let’s not allow our children to waste their time watching Mr. Bean.
Remember: Sit on a bike, not the couch.