I moved in a week later while my parents were on vacation, much to their dismay. My mom said "You didn't even ask to move out." and "You better still go to college like you planned." I packed most of my stuff in a couple car loads, including my clothes, personal momentos and my Free Spirit 10 speed bike and moved into our 2 bedroom basement apartment. At the end of summer, I enrolled in evening classes at community college, taking mostly marketing courses.
My first professor, Mr. John deYoung, captivated me with real life looks at how business works. Most of his students were young and idealistic and full of opinions. It didn't take long for him to set us up and let us realize on our own how complex business can be; how success was based on your personal outlook on how business should be done.
In one such discussion, we got into a debate based on the old addage, "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." He allowed us all to point out business success stories about entrepreneurs who captured huge market shares by improving what was already invented. After about 30 minutes of collective agreement that we could be successful if we just focused on one product and made it the best it could be ... he said, "buggy whips". Many of us were puzzled; most of us didn't really know what a buggy whip was.
Professor deYoung explained that the buggy whip business was competitive and ever so profitable in the days of the horse and buggy. Then came the automobile. Many believed cars would never become common place, citing their unreliability, their safety hazards, etc. They were wrong and before long, the buggy whip industry shrunk and all but disappeared.
In the mid-1800's the first bicycles were invented. They were heavy and difficult to ride in the clothing styles of the day. But people were still fascinated with them and the industry grew and grew. The invention of automobiles did not slow the progress of the bicycle. Some may have thought they, too, would have gone the way of the buggy whips but they have not and will not.
As John Howard once said: "The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine." Considering how unreliable the first automobile engines were, it's no wonder that people felt comfortable relying on themselves to propel their two wheeled vehicles.
I wish I had discovered BMX when I was a child. It would have been a natural fit for me as it is for so many young riders. My friend, James, and I salvaged wood, cinder blocks and anything we could find to build ramps to jump off and obstacle courses to weave through. We taught ourselves and each other all kinds of bike tricks and stunts and held our own contests in the neighborhood.
I believe that BMX lays the groundwork for a lifelong love of bicycling. I've heard of talented BMX riders putting their skills to the test in mountain bike racing and also college Velodrome teams, not to mention triathlons. Bike riding is one of the best balance development activities that extends beyond the bike. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving".
I recall hearing that a student driving instructor remarked that so many of the video game generation had trouble turning corners smoothly, unlike prior generations he had taught. His theory was that the explosion of high tech video games kept more kids in front of the game consoles and less out on bikes. In fact, some of his students had never even learned to ride a bike. After 30+ years of teaching driving, he saw how the lack of riding a bicycle negatively impacted their ability to drive.
There are so many other ways that bicycling impacts our lives, but it's growing late, there's laundry to do and a dog that needs walking. Plus, I need a decent night of sleep before tomorrow's planned long ride, fully loaded up with gear.
More later; until then feel free to weigh in with your thoughts about our ride and your own questions; good advice is always welcome, too!
Miles ridden so far: 0 (training miles don't count)
PS - Hello to our friends in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Volcano, Hawaii who are now following our ride. Help us reach cycling enthusiasts around the world by forwarding our website link to friends in your address book and let's see if we can reach cycling fans on every continent!