I approached the bike store with a few butterflies in my stomach. I wasn't sure who I was supposed to report to, but eventually, a stereotypical mtn biker/surfer dude with orange sunglasses and out-of-control curly hair said, "Hi, I'm Michael, you must be Andi?" I said yes and he proceeded to hand me an information sheet of my duties for the day. "Sign one of the pages on the back and date it when you're done. Oh, and we'll need your fingerprints and your checking account number." I'm so nervous I just kind of nod and give a nervous laugh. And then he says that he's just kidding, and I feel really stupid. But he's cool. He gets me helping with the bikes right away. We need to test them (all 20 of them) before we take 20 inner-city kids on a mtn bike ride. About an hour later we're headed off to meet the kids. The entire day was wonderful. No falls. And one 14-year-old boy learned to ride a bike for the first time, ever. It was so much fun to see the smiles on their faces after the downhill, and again after the uphill because they felt so proud of themselves for doing it.
As we ate our lunch at the beach, I realized most of these kids have never even been to the beach even though they live only 15-30 minutes away. For the kids who have bikes at home, they rarely ride in their neighborhood because it is too dangerous. Here they are safe. Here they are just a bunch of middle-school kids having fun. They're being kids. No attitudes, barely. Lots of smiles. They're even encouraging each other. It was amazing. I also thought about all the Saturdays I spend at home just doing chores and sometimes being lazy, when I could be out doing something like this.
I know what I'll be doing next Saturday. I'll be going for a ride. Not my usual solo ride through the hills near my house, but a ride where I step outside of my comfort zone and help someone learn something as simple and wonderful as riding a bike. Most likely, I'll learn something, too.