Building Stories One Bike at a Time
The Red Schwinn is a super cool bike. But, truly, it’s so much more!
The end of Old Hickory Lane had a cul de sac with a tiny creek. It was more like a tiny drainage ditch, but it felt like something unique and mysterious. It was my destination. I packed a small backpack with chapstick, a stuffed animal, and a snack, likely sliced apples.
I felt invincible, adventurous, independent, brave. I was determined to reach the creek all by myself, on my red bike. It was a dream. I felt empowered. This journey wasn’t the first bike adventure of my life, and thankfully, not even close to being the last, but it was memorable. And it began with my red bike — The Red Schwinn.
I was the fourth child to experience the joys of The Red Schwinn. Now legendary within our family, this red treasure has given this same sense of freedom and adventure for 11 children and counting. The trusty Schwinn was purchased for my older sister, Julie, in 1973 by my grandmother. I imagine my Nani made this purchase with great excitement. Julie was her first grandchild, and this bike was expensive at the time. She could not have anticipated the lasting memories and impact her gift would have upon five of her grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
My older sister is now 52. Her three children all experienced the freedom of The Red Schwinn. Up until 2008, the bike still had the original solid rubber tires. McLain Cycle and Fitness swapped them out and gave the bike a once over before my own three children had their turn.
Not everyone has a Nani to buy them a bicycle or inherit one passed down from generation to generation. However, our work here at Norte can help create other stories, traditions, and memories. We’ve already started to see them develop with repeat patrons to Norte‘s Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library. We already have young riders on their second or third bike in its short history, and they are all smiles when introducing the program to a friend or younger sibling.
As we roll into Northern Michigan Bike Month and summer of adventure ahead, there’s no better time than now to check out the bike library. Bikes can be checked out for as long as needed and returned when a child is ready for a new chapter and the next size up.
As for The Red Schwinn, it waits patiently and dutifully for the next generation in our family. The last member to ride it was my daughter Ella. Sometime shortly, but not too soon, one of my three children will pass it on, and another generation of independence and freedom will begin.
Keep it rolling!
Jill, Director of Operations
Download your Mike Erway Design poster for Bike Month.