(Pilar Perez is a student at Brooklyn International High School in Brooklyn, NY, and a bike mechanic at Recycle-A-Bicycle)
My love of bikes began when I was very young.
I learned to ride a bicycle when I was 7 years old. I lived in Puebla, Mexico at the time and I learned to ride on my father’s Panasonic mountain bike. It was much too big for me. Each time I fell down, I was motivated to keep trying.
Eventually I discovered my sister’s old bike that she had grown too big for. It was just about my size but it needed a lot of work. I studied the bicycle and could see that each and every part fit into another part, again and again, making the bicycle whole. I realized that if the bike was broken, it was just a matter of finding and fixing the broken place.
After three afternoons, I had fixed the bike.
I would ride through the city until the streets turned to earth and the air was fresh and I felt free. My sister told me I was crazy but I knew that if I could do this, I could do anything.
Learning to ride a bike is something I think back to a lot — that particular combination of feelings: self-sufficiency, motivation, and accomplishment — is something that I take great comfort in. These are the lessons I want to carry with me no matter what I learn and do.
I am a curious person. I moved to New York City, learned to speak English, learned carpentry and welding, learned to fix bikes and cars, and I want to go to college and study to become an electrical engineer.
So why do I ride? I ride because biking makes my life complete. I can be a responsible citizen, care for the environment, help to save our natural resources, save my money, choose my pace, and at the same time, I can go anywhere I dream.
May is National Bike Month and this year’s theme is One Ride, Many Reasons. To highlight and celebrate the many benefits of bicycling, throughout May we’ll bring you the personal reflections and inspirations of a diverse collection of bicyclists from coast to coast with our daily 31 Days, 31 Reasons blog feature.