Thursday, July 20, 2017

A very very special New Bike Day

Yesterday one of my friends texted me with a picture of her 15 year old son riding a two wheeler for the very first time. I got choked me up. The tears in my eyes were happy tears. It’s not only that her son was experiencing that special feeling we all get when we ride a bike, but because he is autistic.

This week he was attending I Can Shine’s I Can Bike camp and they had been teaching the kids how to ride. First with rollers instead of a back wheel. Over the course of the week the rollers got smaller as each child became more confident. Eventually the rollers were replaced with a wheel. What an amazing concept. Adaptive cycling is truly special.

Riding with rollers instead of a back wheel

To top off this special day, it happened to be his birthday And, what better way to celebrate than picking out a brand new bike. Yep, a super special New Bike day! Today he is at camp riding his very own bike. I joked with my friend that her son’s face will hurt tonight from smiling so much. It’s a good hurt.

Riding his NEW bike!!!
Sure cycling is a great form of exercise, but it is so much more. It’s exhilarating to be able to ride around under your own power. It’s empowering and challenging by pushing you to achieve more than you thought ever possible. Cycling builds confidence and socialization. There are benefits for everyone no matter what your physical or mental status.

I found an article about Patrick McCallister, a cyclists who also happens to have autism. Here’s a snip it on his experience.

“Cycling and autism go hand-in-hand for me. We autistics love rotation, spinning. We love rhythmic activities and can do them for hours. We dislike facial contact. When I’m cycling, I’m in an autistic’s dream world. The front wheel’s spin is absorbing, soothing. I’m moving in a repetitious motion for hours releasing a lot of built up sensory stress.

My cycling buddies — well on saddles they’re not wanting facial contact. All eyes forward; watch the road even when you’re chatting. The autistic obsession I have with talking about narrow interests at length — among cyclists it’s invisible. They’re talking about nothing but bikes and cycling, too.  When I’m among fellow cyclists, everyone is acting like me for a couple hours and I’m not the weird one.

I’ve given up driving, which wasn’t hard. I always disliked driving, because of low sensory thresholds. As I got older and less able to handle sensory stress, the more concerned I got about being able to drive safely. I got a small fleet of bicycles to commute, shop, work, play and exercise on. Bicycles give me a way to get around without endangering others.”

I’m always thrilled when someone tells me they’ve taken up cycling and I see that big smile on their face. It reminds me why I love the sport so much. But when I hear stories like the one of my friend’s son or when I work with Dare2tri athletes, it takes it to a different level.

It’s a good day. A very Happy Birthday to my friend’s son and especially Happy New Bike Day. You earned it!

Enjoy the ride.


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