My love affair with bicycles began at the age of 4 or 5 when my father took me to a parking lot of our church in Brooklyn to get me started riding. He had removed my training wheels earlier that day and told me it was time I was riding on my own.
It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it and, before long, I was riding like the wind. We moved out of Brooklyn to the suburbs of Long Island and my bike was my freedom. I rode all around the town enjoying my rides and the observations you could make from the seat of a bike.
Later, my father’s Air Force job moved to Georgia and we followed it to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. Bear in mind this was the early ’60s, so the culture shock stemming from my New York upbringing to rural Georgia was about as complete as you could get. Still, it was my bicycle that helped me make peace between the two vastly different forms of life.
My brother and I would ride way out into the country and be gone the entire day. We found horses in pastures that allowed us to climb on their backs and ride like the wind. We were able to avoid rattlesnakes and copperheads on the dirt roads we traversed.
I wasn’t with my father the day he died in 1983. So I got on my bike and rode up and down the Atlantic City Boardwalk all night remembering him and our time together. I was at the same place on Sept. 11, 2001, where I was trailering two of my three young children when I heard about the attack at the Twin Towers. My oldest son was at work in Washington, D.C., across the street from the White House and I spent frantic hours trying to contact him.
Biking in Boulder City was one of my joys when we moved here more than 10 years ago. The hills were a challenge, but I powered through it. And downhill was of course a joy.
A couple of years ago, some issues made it more difficult for me to ride. Problems with my neck made it uncomfortable to ride for any length of time and my knees were objecting to the hills more often than not, so my bike rides because fewer and further between.
I remembered seeing those funny-looking trikes where the rider leaned back and actually had a headrest. His feet were on the pedals in front of the bike and he looked very comfortable. So I decided to give it a try.
I first tried a trike with two wheels in the back. It was very tough to ride, and even harder on the hills. And making the turns felt very unstable.
So I tried a “tadpole” trike, with the two wheels in the front. And I went one step further: I added electric assist. Now the hills are my friends.
I’m still getting a good workout because even with electric assist you’re pedaling going uphill. But I can actually make it up the hills and go farther than I ever did on a bike.
And I’ve begun to realize again what a great biking town Boulder City is. With bike paths and lanes all around town, Boulder City is very bike-friendly. Although I get some strange looks as I pass mountain bike riders on their way up to Bootleg Canyon — my trike is definitely not off-road — I feel better and I’m loving the newfound freedom of the trike.
For my next trip, I’m going to bike down to Henderson, cross the bridge over Interstate 11 and wave to the commuters below.
Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, the principal trade publication for the casino industry, and is a 10-plus-year resident of Boulder City.