All year long I look forward to the first bike ride of the year. That’s right. The annual inaugural Spring bike ride. Depending on the weather, it usually happens in March or April. This year it was April 27. More about that later.

Cycling is great exercise

Cycling is great exercise and it energizes me like nothing else. I lived in Roswell for many years. Jere Wood, the mayor of Roswell, is a native of Roswell and an avid cyclist. We have him to thank for all those great bike trails along the Chattahoochee River. I enjoyed riding those beautiful trails.

Although Rome didn’t have any bike trails years ago, I am glad Rome now has trails at Ridge Ferry Park and on the levees. I usually ride the Viking Trail on the Berry College campus. Those bike rides are delightful. The red tail hawk circles overhead as if to say, “Look at me! I’m wild and free!” Dragonflies and butterflies flit around my handlebars as I ride and it is fun watching them. I get to see wild turkeys, and deer in the meadow by the Rollins Research Center. The wildlife and the physical exertion of the bike rides renew me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Because Berry College campus is currently closed to the public, I’ve been riding the bike trail from Chieftains Museum, downtown and back to my car. My favorite endurance ride is from Ridge Ferry Park at Chieftains toward the Rome Braves’ stadium, out the Armuchee Connector to Mount Berry Mall, and back to Ridge Ferry Park.

Annual inaugural Spring bike ride

On April 27 I parked my car at Ridge Ferry Park, locked my car, put a water bottle, my phone, my keys, and my wallet in my bike bag. I took my Trek street bike off the bike rack and started my ride toward the Rome-Floyd County Library. Although I am in the habit of stretching before I start a ride, I was so excited about riding again I forgot all about that. I got on my bike and took off.

I rode along the river with the wind in my face, smiling and having fun riding my bike. I intended to ride downtown and back. However, when I got to Shane’s the trail by the river was closed, so I took the street-level trail by the Olive Garden. I rode down Riverside Parkway to Chieftain’s and back to Ridge Ferry Park. That bike ride was so much fun. I was energized and felt great!

A cycling enthusiast most of my life

It all started when I was 7 years old. Santa brought me a brand-new bike, an Etch-A-Sketch and a Madame Alexander doll for Christmas. That was exactly what I asked for, and I was delighted. However, I was most excited about my new bike. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and I’ve been an ardent cyclist ever since.

I relished riding my bicycle so much that when I was a teenager Mama surprised me with a brand new 5-speed bike! It was not my birthday. It wasn’t Christmas. Mama simply surprised me with it and I certainly was thrilled. I rode that bike all over town.

I mentioned riding a bike since I was 7 years old. I am now 63 years old, exceedingly grateful I am healthy enough to ride my bike these days.

Yet another fantastic annual inaugural Spring bike ride is history. With the wind in my face, smiling all the while at the pure joy of riding my bike, I am revitalized. Pure joy. You are never too old for that.

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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