Column, Looking Back

Looking Back: Bikes for all ages

By Mary Ellen Shaw

It seems like our street had more bicycle riders this summer than I have ever seen here. The adults seem to outnumber the children and teens.

For most of us our connection to biking begins with a tricycle. When I was a child back in the ‘50s there were about a dozen kids in our neighborhood. Many of them were the same age as I was. That meant a lot of tricycles in action at the same time! If one kid was outside riding we all wanted to be out there. The fact that Rutland city has sidewalks must have been a welcome feature to the parents.

Either a mother or a father could be seen walking next to their young child as the youngster navigated the tricycle up and down the sidewalk. No doubt the parents got tired of that activity long before the child did!

It didn’t take long for the younger kids to want a “big kid’s bike” that had just two wheels. I remember getting a “”two-wheeler” for Christmas and what a tease that is when there is a foot of snow on the ground! It got put in the shed along with a promise that as soon as the snow went away and the weather warmed up I could take my first ride. Training wheels helped me transition to the next level of biking.

But no kid wants to keep those training wheels on any longer than necessary. It wasn’t very long before my father took them off and walked beside me holding onto both me and the bike as I learned to balance myself.

My friends were learning to ride “two-wheelers” too so it wasn’t long before all of us were all cruising up and down the street solo. However, at times we would get going too fast and didn’t turn properly. The city streets back in the ‘50s had a layer of sand over a fresh tar-like surface. When you fell off your bike your knees were covered in blood, tar and sand. I can remember the stinging sensation as my knees were cleaned up. I still have scars to remind me of my mishaps!

The bikes that we had as children were not equipped with gears that made it easier to climb hills. You just pedaled as hard as you could to get to the top.

After my teenage years biking ended for me but I took it up again when I was in my 40s. My husband and I both got 10-speed bikes and rode around the northeast section of Rutland for short rides. When we wanted more distance we left our car in the vicinity of the Clarendon Grange and rode on the Creek Road to Wallingford and back. There is a lot of mountain scenery to admire along the way, plus some cows. There are a few spots where you can stop and watch the creek flowing along. You get both exercise and relaxation on this route!

Biking means different things to different people. I had a relative in Florida who used to ride an adult tricycle around the development she lived in. She told me that she rode it to her hairdresser’s shop that was in her complex. All I could think of was the expression, “What goes around comes around!” A tricycle rises again! This particular relative rode her tricycle until she was over 100 years old. How is that for commitment?

I know a couple of people who recently got electric bikes. They really enjoy them and look forward to exploring new places. These bikes are a great option for those of us who are in the “senior category.”

Another popular option is mountain biking. In Rutland City that can be done at Pine Hill Park. If you are in the Killington area some of your choices include: Killington Bike Park, Green Mountain Trails, Sherburne Trails and Gifford Woods. Other options nearby are Woodstock’s Aqueduct Trail and Mt. Peg. In Poultney, Slate Valley offers mountain biking. Do you get the picture? This is a popular activity in our area with many choices that are close to wherever we live.

But biking isn’t just a summer sport. You can ride a fat tire bike on snow in the winter. Pine Hill Park grooms its trails as do Slate Valley, Mt. Peg and Aqueduct.

As you can see there is a type of biking that is suitable for just about everyone at every age. Feeling adventuresome? Why not get on a bike and have some fun!

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