My childhood had its ups and downs, but I was always a happy kid. At a young age I lived with my grandparents on both sides, each for some time while my parents were working to build a family. I am the eldest child of four…I have three younger sisters. My sisters are all many years younger than I, and even my closest sister Rachel has very little memory of life before Maine. We all moved to Maine when I was 6 years old, and at that point I had moved three times with my parents and five times myself. In moving to Maine, my parents promised that would be the last stop, and it was, at least for them.

After settling down in our small Maine community my dad brought me to buy my first bike. We went to the Walmart Supercenter that was just built in a neighboring town and my dad, being a serial multitasker, took me and Rachel there to buy us our first bikes, and get the grocery shopping done. I laugh now thinking about purchasing a bike from Walmart. This was a cool bike though, a blue Next BMX; riding it I felt much cooler too!

Over the next few years I rode that bike almost every day, whether building jumps in my yard with my neighbor, disappearing into the trails for hours, or riding up and down the neighborhood with all of my friends gossiping about elementary school politics. But as I grew older my beloved Next bike began to fall apart (probably from lack of quality associated with Walmart parts). On my twelfth birthday I asked for an upgrade, but not just a bike, I wanted a dirt bike.

So it was to be, I got my wish, tossed the old Next bike to the garbage, and took off on my Honda XR80. Before then I had never imagined the freedom that comes with transportation. Recently being confined to about a mile radius from my house, now with a dirt bike I could get to Canada if I really wanted to (although my mother would have killed me). For years I saw the depths of the Southern Maine woods on that dirt bike, consistently getting lost and finding my way home.

You’re probably asking yourself now: well how does this have anything to do with BikeFrog, and don’t worry I am getting there. But this Next bike was very important to me because it symbolized home. At that time in my life my parents had moved me around quite a bit, and each place we went was always comfortable, but it wasn’t home. Getting my first bike was the reassurance I needed to feel at home. It was my first taste of freedom beyond my own two feet and was my first step toward getting my dirt bike. Little did I know, that Next bike was the catalyst for where I am today, even though it withered away many years ago. I never got another bike between then and college. I noticed one taste of freedom replacing the last, each advancement stretching that radius I could travel from home. Eventually I sold my dirt bike too, to embrace a freedom I had longed for my whole life, the chance to start seeing the world.

MORE FROM THE FROG BLOG

The Bike-sharing World Map

Paul DeMaio started The Bike-sharing World Map in 2007 to be the one-stop source for information about the global growth of bike-share services. The Bike-sharing World Map now shares information over 500 bike-share services including the services’ website, fleet and station size, and launch date.

Tadpole Diaries No. 3: Guatemala

I traveled to Guatemala to work with Safe Passage at 15 years old, it was my first experience in a 3rd world country. After spending a little over two weeks there, my perspective on the meaning of life and my view of the world dramatically shifted…naturally.