A bike is a compendium of wonderment, a liberation of realizations, a medium and a message, an art and a science, a journey in itself. To bike with children is to set yourself free.
I have written much about biking together with little ones, and this site-within-a-site has been more than a decade in the inspiration and years in the gathering of marvels. It was during my trip to Amsterdam, in the summer of 2001, that I remember seeing families on bikes and wanting to sweep them into my arms and envelop them with delight. It was 2005 when I, inspired by friends and blog-people and commuters hurtling through Ladd's Addition and over the Hawthorne Bridge, once more found a bicycle to call my own and began to pull my children behind me, proudly trailing them up hills and down hills, to the park, to birthday parties, to the Grand Floral Parade. I became car-free.
Bumping and bundling my boys behind me, an afterthought, was not, however, anything close to the huggable image with which I'd come home from Amsterdam and cycled through a loop in my brain still. One day on Division, JJ spoke in hushed tones of something called a "Bobike" seat and from then on I sighed for one. My babe between the handlebars! That was what I wanted.
A baby came, and grew, and one day the president said he wanted us to spend, spend, spend. I took my stimulus money and went to Clever Cycles. "I want a bike," I said. "To carry me and my three boys." Martina did not bat an eye. She looked me up and down. "Your legs are strong," she said. And she told me of a wonderful plan, one with a Bobike between the handlebars, probably-almost-just-like the Dutch parents who bicycled through my mind. Two weeks later, I brought that bike home, an Electra Townie stretched out thanks to Xtracycle and, as I rode home, the mamabikeorama was born.
Since that day, I have not driven a car of my own; soon after, we would lose our car in an awkward twist of fate; I have not missed it.
Though I have coined the word "mamabikeorama," it is not meant to describe just my own bike with my three boys, the configuration I described. A mamabikeorama is any bicycle that transports parent and child in a manner that is at once liberation and salvation, that gives riders both joy and strength, that will turn heads, give rise to smiles and waves and the occasional shaking fist. Carnival ride and lorry. A magical bike.
Here, I will tell tales of the mamabikeorama, both mine and yours. Here, you may buy little things, stickers for your bicycle, and whatever else I can dream up. If you use the word "mamabikeorama," wherever you are (on the net), I will come and share your prayers and dreams too. Here, I hope to inspire you, and my own self, at regular intervals. Here, we who have already let go of our fear seize the power, savor the world in which we are, become the change, remember, we are not en route, we are already here.