When I was kid, I enjoyed playing dolls, especially paper dolls. Etch-a-Sketch, Silly Putty, Slinky, and board games — including Scrabble, Mouse Trap, Password and Clue — were all things I liked to play with. Ultimately, my favorite activity was riding my bike.

When I was 7 years old, I happened to learn to ride the bike of a neighborhood friend. For Christmas that year I asked Santa for a Madame Alexander doll and a bicycle. Christmas morning, in front of the Christmas tree, was the doll and the pretty, blue bike I had asked for. I started riding that bike around the neighborhood and I have been an avid cyclist ever since.

Mama surprised me with a brand new 5-speedPicture it. April, 1973. The East Rome High School Band was going to Washington, D.C., for the Cherry Blossom Festival. By now I, a teenager, had outgrown the bike Santa brought years before. So Mama, keenly aware of how I loved riding my bike, surprised me with a brand new 5-speed bike! I was thrilled and wanted to go right out and ride it — but I could not.

The bike was delivered the day before the band left for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I was in the band and had to get ready for the trip. Riding my new bike would have to wait until after that great trip. It was worth the wait.

I rode that bike all over town.

In those days Rome had no bike trails. My friends and I rode from Atteiram Heights and North Hills to Chatillion Road to the mountain campus at Berry College and back. We rode down to the old train depot near Central Plaza. We looked at the antiques and got a COKE. Then we rode down to the playground at Myrtle Hill and had a picnic.

These days I have a Trek, a skinny tire road bike that I’ve had for many years. I have a Rhino-Rack bike rack so I take my bike with me to the office every day. After work, I change clothes, put the bike on the bike rack and head straight for the levee at Heritage Park.

I am very acclimated to the heat but I know to be careful riding in the heat. So, the last hour and a half at work every afternoon, I drink plenty of water so as to be well hydrated on the bike ride.

The other day, just as I was about to get on the trail at Bridgepoint Plaza, a lady in an SUV drove past me. She was headed for Broad Street and rolled down her window and said, “Be careful out there. It is hot!” I said, “Thank you! I will.”

My granddaughter learns to ride her bikeRecently, on a trip to Colorado, Charlotte, my 5-year-old granddaughter learned to ride her bike. My daughter sent me a video of Charlotte riding her bike on a paved bike trail. The video was shot from behind Charlotte as she happily rode her bike, pigtails flying ... and the rugged beauty of the Colorado Rockies in the background. Charlotte has now discovered how much fun bike riding is.

Riding my bike during the carefree days of summer is delightful because the wind is in my face and I don’t have to worry about anything. Pure joy.

As I stated, I’ve been riding a bicycle since I was 7 years old. After all these years, I am still riding my bike. The physical exertion of the bike rides renews me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. What a blessing!

Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, an avid cyclist, history enthusiast, and an ardent reader of Southern fiction. She is the author of “People, Places, and Memories of Rome.” Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com

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