Amanda Lutey


I spent a few hours on Wednesday working outside.

It was glorious.

It pleased me to cover the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association’s first Plein Air Festival. I decided to use my bike to track down artists around the city. I picked up my bike from Fast Eddie’s Bicycle and Hobby Emporium where it had been getting a tune-up to make it road worthy. My mother gave me her bike last summer, and the tires were flat and would not hold air after a winter and spring spent in storage.

Riding the bike allowed me to slow down to more easily spot artists as they painted around Beaver Dam. I decided creeping around in my car, wasting gas and annoying other drivers by driving slowly (and distractedly) was a bad idea.

My trip took me past several parks in the city, and I also stopped at the Beaver Dam Police Department to license my bike. The BDPD is issuing free bike licenses this summer and it only takes a few minutes to do it. You just need the make, model, color, wheel size and serial number.

After more than an hour on the bike, I decided I may need a refresher course in bike safety and a lesson in shifting gears on a new-to-me bike. If you spotted someone on a blue bike with a helmet, backpack and camera dangling from her neck on Wednesday, that was me.

If you don’t think Beaver Dam is hilly, try touring it on foot or by bike.

Although I managed to survive my childhood not wearing a bike helmet, I now wear one because I prefer the gray matter to stay inside my skull.

My first bike was a pink Huffy with a cushioned seat. I adored it.

I was about 5 or 6 when I received it, and my father taught me how to ride in the high school parking lot across the street from our home. I decorated and rode it during Fourth of July parades in White Pine, and used it to roam the neighborhood to meet friends.

My second bike was a red 10-speed my parents bought for my 10th birthday the summer after we moved to Colorado. When I was in high school, my father decided to buy mountain bikes for the family. Since I had a perfectly good bike, I tried to argue that I would rather use the money for a mountain bike for me to buy clothes (or books) instead.

I lost that argument.

The rest of the family came home with new bikes, and all I brought home was a bike helmet I often neglected to wear because I thought it looked dorky. I sold the bike when I went to college, and did not get on a bike again for nearly a decade.

My family was visiting the U.P. over a Memorial Day weekend and during a birthday lunch for my grandmother, my father announced his intention of biking from my grandparents’ home in Ironwood to Saxon River Harbor, about 24 miles away.

Buoyed by birthday cake (and a glass of wine for the birthday toast) I decided to join Dad on his bike ride and borrowed my mother’s bike.

A good portion of the ride is downhill, and while once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget, my confidence vanished while moving at high speeds and I tended to apply the brakes too much. I survived the trip (one way, as my mother and son met us out there), but spent the next several days walking around bowlegged and with a better understanding of what saddle sore feels like.

I look forward to getting out on the bike more often this summer, as part of my half marathon training or as a fun weekend activity with friends.