Forgotten Bicycle Frees Student from Quarantine

Cadence Hoover, Journalism 1 writer

The New York Times Magazine celebrates the little things in life through a weekly column called “Letter of Recommendation.” For the opinion writing assignment in Journalism 1, Mrs. Weiss asked the students to follow this style and write about something that they have come to appreciate more during the school closure and stay-at-home orders because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Enjoy! (Here is the link to the New York Times Magazine stories where these students got their inspiration.)

Everyone breathes the air and the sun shines everyday. We may forget how essential these elements are and what benefits they hold, but once we take advantage of what is in front of us, we live a happier life.

Once our social time became limited during this pandemic, walking with my brother became a new habit for me as I wanted to spend more time with him and enjoy the nice weather. It was a casual thing, but we soon became bored of walking on foot, so we decided to take out my old scooter. We rode down steep hills with caution and fear of large cracks in the roads. The scooter was old, rusty, and we only had one, so my brother and I had to share, which was not ideal. After some time of my brother and I sharing the scooter for fun, I got an idea: my bike.

Before the stay-at-home orders, I never rode my bike. It sat in my garage for years collecting dust and longing to see the sun. When I found it, I noticed the tires were flat which was a serious problem for me since I did not know how to inflate them, and no one who did was at home during the day. I spent an hour fiddling with the flat and dirty wheels trying to put air in the tires. Dust and cobwebs also aided in hiding the true shape of the wheels. The internet was no help either so I ended up surrendering to the almighty challenge.

That night, when my father came home, I pleaded with him to help me with the tires. He reluctantly agreed to help and soon we were in the garage and plugging in the air compressor. It was at this point that I realized that I was only slightly wrong in my technique to fill the tires, but I was grateful to learn the right way, nonetheless. By the time the tires were full, it was almost dark, but that did not stop me from riding down my driveway and around the block on my newfound wheels. 

The crisp breeze from the descending sun hit my face as my bike tires traversed the sidewalk. All that had been happening, all the stress from the past weeks, was gone. Feelings of freedom and abandon flooded through my fingertips on the handlebars, my flowing hair in the wind, and a racing heart in my chest. Bumps in the road were easily overcome by my bike.  I was not far from home, but it felt as if I was the only person on the planet. The sunset came soon and I felt dread of returning home; I did not want to end my journey that felt so good.

Riding in the evening became what I looked forward to every morning when I woke up. It became part of my daily routine, like having a coffee in the morning for the caffeine rush or listening to music as you study to help you retain information. 

Later on, an opportunity arose. All of my friends regularly ride their bikes and now that I rode mine, I felt like a part of their group, and they welcomed me. We made plans to hang out around some of the dirt jumps and hills they made themselves. 

The first morning I was to meet them, I felt so exhausted I didn’t want to get out of bed. I pushed the meeting times farther and farther into the day. I had no motivation to get outside of my room. This was all so new to me, but I decided to go because I needed a change. We met together, and I let them show me the way to our destination. The ride was tiring; there were hills and the heat of the sun shone down on us with a mugginess in the air. 

We arrived at the edge of a small forest behind a neighborhood and for a second, I was scared. I thought about all of the bad that could happen being in the woods with no one around. However, I believed, that for the first time in my life, I had to be daring and adventurous, so I followed my friends down a muddy path. Roots from the trees stuck out of the ground, making the ride not so smooth, and we soon made it to the jumps. I set my bag and my bike down and breathed in the outside air. The sun peeked through the canopy of the tree branches, adding to the sublime beauty of the forest. I decided not to go over the jumps, as I was still afraid of getting hurt, but I was proud that I could go out of my comfort zone and do something new even when I felt like staying in bed. I even got my hands dirty by building a makeshift bridge with my friends out of sticks and mud. 

With all that is happening in the world today, or rather NOT happening, it seemed hard to feel free inside the walls of my home. However, riding my bike and being able to feel the elements of nature became an escape from the craziness that is today. This will always be an option for me to feel free whenever I feel trapped, stressed or need a second to breathe. Who knew being forced to stay at home would force me to find a whole new world?