We have always been a bike riding family, but before that we were a bike riding couple. Even before that, we happened to be riding bicycles on the day that we met. Despite the fact that biking can often be an individual’s retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is a social sport to its core. Bicycling creates a social space for riders on trails, outside of coffee shops, and in the brightly colored bunches of riders gliding down the road on a warm summer day. Any cyclist will always look for the telltale signs to identify another, or crane their neck to check out a rider as they speed, or cruise, by. So it’s probably no wonder that soon after we joined the school community we started to notice other riding families and parents.
It wasn’t long before invites to a weekly evening ride were extended to these new riders that we met. New friendships were quickly made and it wasn’t long again before a small pack of parents and students could be seen pedaling up the driveway to school, the children pedaling in smaller circles but with a great enthusiasm to be sharing this breezy fun with their parents in the morning. Now the Waldorf School of Philadelphia is blessed to have some great organizers in the parent body and with John Fiorella a regular on the biking crew, it wasn’t long before Pat planted the seed for a ride in the honor and memory of Lewis Smith.
Lewis was a Waldorf Parent and an avid cyclist. His dedication to the sport evidenced by the sleek road bicycle at the ready most drop-off mornings, his dedication to the school was evidenced by his attention and thoughtful contributions to class and larger school meetings. Tragically, Lewis was taken from his family and our community too soon after a battle with cancer. A bike ride to support the school in Lewis’ honor seemed like the perfect way for us two-wheeled types to remember our friend and fellow parent, spread the word of the school, and share the joy of cycling with others.
From the early stages of planning, to the ringing of the starting bell by Lewis and Andrea Smith’s daughters, to the triumphant finish of the last riders, the first annual Ode to Joy Ride exceeded all expectations! The coming together of friends, the sharing of bicycling with its individual and social components, and the memorial of a fellow Waldorf parent created a special alchemy. Despite the forecaster’s predictions, the sun shone golden light on the day of the ride and the school community came together in a terrific way. Organizers, riders, volunteers, friends, and passers-by got a special glimpse of our community when we gathered to ride. It is our intention to continue this event on a yearly basis, but we will continue to take to our wheels and think back to the first Ode to Joy Ride many times in-between. Come out and join us, bring your helmet and a smile, see you on the trail!
- Alexander and Kimberly Mills