Learning to Ride the Bicycle

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I felt I was old enough and big enough to learn to ride my big brother’s bicycle. I saw him, other boys and a couple of girls riding bicycles, but I was scared to death. I was sure I’d fall and break my leg or at the least skin my knee. I wanted to ride, but my mind kept telling me that I was too clumsy to ever master the feat.

You know how you can look at what someone else does and immediately conclude that it’s hard … difficult … impossible … no way! Well, that’s the way I thought whenever I saw anyone riding that two-legged spoke. But, I was envious when that chick from up the road zipped into our yard one day on her bike, said, “Hi,” and zipped back up the road like a streak of lightning. I stood there thinking, “She rides way too well to be a girl.” Well, that was a gender thing then, and that’s just the way we thought.

Now, for one thing, I couldn’t understand how a contraption with just two wheels could stand up, let alone roll along the highway. In my childish way of thinking, I was sure any vehicle needed at least four tires in order to stay upright. I didn’t understand that when the body is properly balanced, it can stay on top of a two-wheel bike. It looked hard, but I knew that if I wanted to learn this skill, I’d have to at least give it a try.

Then, one day, I finally overcame my fear and told myself it was time. That particular day, I remember that all the other kids were gone, and I had the bike all to myself. Actually, they were at school that day, but I stayed home … for whatever reason. Anyway, I straddled the bike and tried to make it stand up. It did everything but that. Seems like even after a hundred times, it just wouldn’t stay up – with me on it. Finally, I figured out a way to simplify the ordeal.

I brought the bike to the side of the steps and, as it leaned up against the house, I straddled it again. Each time I sat on the bike, I’d let it roll away … just a little bit. Then, I’d try it all over again. To make a long story short, at the end of the day when the kids were coming home from school, I rode down the driveway on the bike … giggling all the way!

Now, understand this. I hadn’t mastered the art, but I was on my way, and the best part is that I hadn’t fallen and broken a leg. I hadn’t even skinned my knee. I really thought I was something, especially since I recall that my older sister had not learned to ride yet. I felt I was in the big league, because, in my opinion, only athletic people became real cyclists.

And, by the way, cycling is one of those skills, like sewing, driving or cooking, when once learned, it’s always “there” even though it may be tucked way back in your memory bank. Now, I’m convinced that if I were to hop on a bike this very day, it would all come back to me just as it did the very first day that I learned to ride.

Photo: iStockphoto.com/straga