Team Estrogen Bike Love Contest
When we sponsored this contest, we expected to hear stories of favorite bikes and tales of girl-meets-boy. What we got was that and so much more. Childhood memories. Tales of love found and love lost. Stories of cancers conquered, mountains climbed, and disabilities overcome. And we were struck over and over again by how profoundly and fundamentally a simple machine like a bicycle can change our lives, our families and our world.
Our sincere thanks for sharing these stories with us.
Choosing just one winner proved impossible. Ultimately, we picked our sentimental favorite, and decided to give "honorable mention" awards to two others. These 3 stories follow.
And finally, in the spirit of wanting to share so many of the other wonderful tales with you, we have excerpted many of them following the winning entries.
First Place Winner($100 TE Gift Certificate)
I remember wanting a new bike more than anything for Christmas that year. I knew though that it was just a wish as my dad was in the military and with 4 sisters money was hard to come by. That was the year that my dad was in Vietnam with the Air Force and the whole year was hard on everyone. My old bike was named "Handmedown" as it had belonged to all my sisters before it became mine. I loved it but it was pretty much on its last spoke. With the worry my mom had about my dad I only mentioned it once to her and knew I would have to wait.
On Christmas morning we opened all our gifts quietly as we still missed my dad and it just did not seem like Christmas without him. My mother then handed me an envelope and inside was a card from my dad telling me how much he loved me and to go outside the window. There outside was the most beautiful green bike I had ever seen! His card had said that Santa visited him overseas and told him I wanted a bike. He also said that the minute he came back we would go on our first bike ride. He came back, battered but still having his wonderful warm smile and twinkle in his eye. It was months before he could ride a bike but when he could we took our first ride together.
I had that bike all these years, albeit a little worse for wear but still beautiful in my heart and eyes. Then Hurricane Katrina struck Biloxi and it was lost forever. I cried for days as when it was lost I felt as if I had lost my best friend and something which had given a little girl hope for a dad to come home again and belief that wishes can come true.
Honorable Mention($50 TE Gift Certificate)
He: Engineer at facility
She: Engineer at same facility
He: Has Motorcycle and Bicycle
She: Has Motorcycle
She and He fall in love while Motorcycling
He: Quits Engineer job for Bicycle job 120 miles away
She: Is sad
He: Sells Motorcycle
She: Is very sad
He: Buys her a Trek 1000, Shimano clipless pedals, Shimano shoes, Specialized Turbo computer, Pearl Izumi gloves, Bell Helmet, and a Camelbak.
She: Has lost 20 pounds, feels great, and sells motorcycle
She: Moves 120 miles to be with He
He: Is happy he's found his soulmate in She
Honorable Mention($50 TE Gift Certificate)
Bicycle Love comes in many forms. There is the love of cycling, of the wind as it flows past us, of the joy that is felt when tackling the greatest of hills. There is the love of the bicycle, of having the perfect bike, the bike that feels an extension of self, not a mechanical attachment. But, then, there is also love that comes in the form of the bicycle.
I was raised the fourth in a family of five children. By all definitions we were not poor. There was always food on the table, a roof over our heads and shoes on our feet-well, only when we wanted to have shoes on our feet, of course. But we also weren't rich. In a family of five, hand-me-downs were a fact of life.
As a young child, my oldest brother and sister had "adult" bicycles. They were classic 1950's Schwinns. Single speed. Coaster brakes. One was a boy's bike and the other a girl's bike with the sweeping curved frame. The rest of us were too little and shared a single bicycle with training wheels. Soon, as we grew older a third bicycle entered the family. Then, it was my turn. I was looking forward to a shiny new bicycle, but, alas, times were not always good and my sister decided she was too old to ride a bike. According to the Hand-me-Down Law of Large Families, I inherited her beat up pink Schwinn.
While embarrassed to admit it today, I wasn't a good sport about it and did the usual childhood temper tantrums--as if that was going to change the situation. Well, it did, but not as I expected. My grandfather asked me if pink wasn't the color I wanted in a bike, what color did I want? Yellow. I had to have yellow.
So one summer day he picked me up, put my sister's big old pink Schwinn in the trunk and we drove over to his house. We sanded down the frame and painted that ugly pink bike the brightest most fluorescent shade of yellow you could imagine. To top it off, when it was done, my grandfather cut out pieces of electrical tape he had in his garage and pin-striped the chain guard and fork. My, what a site that bike was!
While I would like to say that I was proud of that bike and rode it with pride, alas, I cannot. I rode it and I appreciated it as best as an 10 year old can, but it took the hindsight view of an adult to see the love that my grandfather put into trying to give me my bike and not just another hand-me-down.
Since that day I've had many a bicycle and many a bicycle story to relate, but if one were to ask me today about bicycle love, it would be that shiny yellow paint job with electrical tape pin-striping on an old beat up Schwinn bicycle.
New Berlin , WI
Excerpts from other submissions:
"I was married at a bike shop in Anchorage Alaska by the head mechanic. We biked down the Alaska Highway ON A TANDEM for our honeymoon."###
"From the age of 2 though the age of 14, I wore braces to correct severe knock kneed pigeon- toed legs. What a strange sight, a little girl with braces on her legs riding through town. Even when the bike seat fell off, I would ride standing the entire time. My bike love has taken me to cycle in far away places: Portugal, Denmark, England, Holland, Austria, and Italy. But nothing has come close to those magical times I could forget my braces and just ride."###
"The moment that was truly defining for me and my bike love was when I had returned from a long and wet training ride and wanted a hot shower more than anything. Before long I had taken off my cold, wet bike clothes and found myself outside pre-shower, disrobed, wiping "precious" down. It wasn't until my roommate came outside and expressed her concern for my mental state that it occurred to me that, "This is what bike love is."###
"Amid giggles I walked the bike up the hill, positioned myself in the middle of the street and began to pray "don't let me die, don't let me die." With a hesitant push, off I went down the hill. I gripped my tasseled hand grips, my feet found the pedals�. I don't remember want happened on the way down the hill, but went got to the bottom, I was pedaling and balancing and smiling."###
"In March 2004, after several tests and biopsies, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. I was shocked when my oncologist told me that my disease was incurable and that the average life expectancy was 2-3 years. The cancer cells had traveled beyond my breast and set up shop in my liver and also about a dozen places in my bones. My oncologist warned me that the damage to my spine (from the cancer) was significant and I should avoid impact activities and avoid lifting anything over 20 lbs. In July 2004, I decided to take up cycling. After all, I had a dusty old cheap mountain bike that I hadn't taken out in years. I'll never forget that first ride. It was 5 whole miles and I had to stop halfway to catch my breath - and almost puke! When I got back home I was exhausted but so proud of myself."###
"The year was 1967. I had my first Big Bike. I was free to ride all over my neighborhood. There was one street I would ride very fast yet very quiet down. That is where the Greene's dog lived and he always chased me. I would scream, and yell and kick my feet at him, to no avail. One day I even fell off of my bike and got a hole in my pants. Years later I found out that the owner would purposely make the dog run after me. Yes, my husband, Dexter Greene confessed that he would wait until I would ride past and command his dog to run after me. Funny how a man sent a dog to do a man's job. "###
"That day, even if for just a moment, I felt like I could fly ... I think I had a brief glimpse of what a caterpillar must feel the first time she emerges from her chrysalis and discovers that she has become a butterfly or dragonfly and has sprouted wings. "###
"My left shoulder looked lower than the right one. Off to the hospital we went and, you guessed it, my left clavicle was fractured. The nurse in the ER told me that dates were supposed to be "safe", and her advice to me was "maybe you'd better rethink this guy"."###
"We took him to the school parking lot and spent the afternoon going around and around, until he was so tired he was rubbing his little legs! Bike cramps at 2 years old!"###
"I looked hard at the two of us the winter of 2002. He couldn't walk. I wouldn't ride. We had no physical activities between us. I took a deep breath. "Okay, I'll ride, will you train me?" We combined rides with going out to dinner, rides with going to visit my mother. We made the rides into dates and special occasions. I was tired, but my new life had just begun. What's more, my husband's dedication to my fitness got him interested in his own again. Now we are both in our mid-50's and are healthier than we have ever been in our lives."###
"I awoke early that christmas morning to find the bike of my dreams. It was candy apple red, white hand grips, white seat, and 3 black wheels. It was sharp. Being as how it was christmas, all my older brothers and sisters gathered around, we moved all the gifts out of the way and I sat on her. Oh she was the perfect fit. Mom said I could ride her in the living room if I was careful. Round and round I went, around the rugs, the furniture. It was like heaven. "