Here at home in Portland, kids on bikes are no big deal. The majority of kids have a bike or ride one on occasion, and a fair amount of them are decent riders. That is the case for my kiddo too.
In Nicaragua there are a lot of bikes, but they tend to be ridden by the kids' parents, while the kids get plopped on the middle bar or on a rack in the back. Bikes, in Granada, are a common form of transport for parents and adults -- but you don't see a lot of little helmeted cyclists riding around. Once we got there, i quickly decided that i too was not buying my kid a bike, since the drivers drive crazy and it was so dang hot that my kid was not likely to ride. Oh, and the bikes you could find were pretty bad too. I bought one brand-new and within months it had a bent rim that rendered it wobbly and a bunch of rust that rendered it unattractive and less steal-worthy.
It was surprising, then, to discover that i would soon learn to be a mountain biker from a bunch of Nicaraguan teens. This particular group were kids who had been part of a non-profit that supports them through their education, Empowerment International, and that also happens to have a bike club. I soon became a proud adult member of this club.
Every Tuesday at 5 i would rise with the roosters and get on my wobbly bike. When i arrived at the meeting point i would trade that wobbly thing for one of the group's great bikes, and off we'd go to Laguna de Apoyo or Mombacho Volcano or Lago Cocibolca -- these places where tourists might skim the surface, but never see the back ends or untrodden trails that we got to tread. It was really one of the highlights of my time in Granada.
Now that club is planning for their annual week-long Bike Challenge, where mountain bikers from anywhere can come and join these kids for days and days of adventure in some of those great spots where tourists rarely get to do more than gloss the surface.
I wish i could be there, but since i can't, you should go! Here's more information: http://empowermentchallenge.com/
Meanwhile, the fall colors in Oregon are in full effect -- something i now see i've missed after skipping it for a year. If you're in need of a pop of color inside the house, check out this 24 Hour Florist.