Learning to Ride a New Bike
For kids, summer is a magical time of year. Don’t misunderstand, adults like summer too, but summer equals freedom for kids. They can create, run free, sleep in, do whatever strikes their fancy. It brings to mind days of swimming, reading under a shady tree, spending hours on whatever activity strikes their fancy, camping, and, of course, riding bikes.
When I was 6, my parents gave me a new bike for my birthday which happens to fall close to the beginning of summer. I was pretty excited since I had been practicing for a year on an old 14” yard sale clunker…or maybe it was a hand-medown from my aunts or uncles. Needless to say, that the ancient, wide saddle-seat, rusty contraption expanded my world, but left a little to be desired once I mastered the basic skills.
All throughout the summer before kindergarten and into the next spring, I road that bike, but in May, I came home from school to find a shiny 20” pink bike with a banana seat and sissy bar (hey, those were cool in 1970!). And, since this was “back-in-the-day”, there were coaster brakes and no gears on this new marvel.
That pink single-speed served me well. I road it until I was 12 when I graduated to 10-speed, complete with hand brakes, gears, and another foot of elevation. In those days, our parents bought us bikes to “grow into”...nevermind that I had to lean it sideways just to hop on.
In the beginning, I didn’t love that 10-speed...it was uncomfortable and awkward. Transition from the old rusty, single gear, coaster-brake bike to a slighter larger, cooler pink version was not difficult, but now I had to manage speeds, a new size, and handbrakes; all of which seemed a little daunting. I didn’t understand why riding a bike was now hard...I had been doing it for over half of my life!
I am happy to report that in time I warmed up to a 10-speed bike and we had a long, satisfying relationship throughout my teens and into adulthood, but the adjustment was bumpy to say the least!
The perseverance through trial and error, scrapes and bruises, and one small concussion (thanks to a pothole that I was sure was not there the day before) was worth it in the end. Those gears and larger tires allowed me to ride longer distances and explore new territory. I would have been exhausted had I tried to travel that same distance on my old bicycle.
I am wondering if this next school year might be a little like my bike riding experience. During the 2017-18 school year we will need to adjust to a host of changes to a system that is old and familiar; new features include a four-day school week, new staff, adjusted curriculum, modified sports practices, altered bus routes, etc. That is a significant amount of change at once and, at times, I suspect students, staff, or parents might feel a little off-balance. I believe, though, that perseverance will be worth the initial discomfort. In the end, we will take our students further than we could have with our old routines.
The attraction of the 4-day school week allowed us to hire all of our open positions with quality candidates. We are excited about our new line-up, even though the transition might be a little bumpy. Hopefully, no one will experience anything as severe as a concussion, but as we hit those potholes, let’s work together to figure out a solution that is in the best interests of students. We cannot anticipate where every pothole lurks, especially in this new uncharted territory, but I have confidence in our staff and our parents to help sort through the issues as we travel on our journey. Let’s ride!