When I was 5 years old, I severely broke my arm and spent the greater part of that year in casts and going through physical therapy. I lost an essential year of bike riding lessons. At 7 I had plastic surgery on the scarring and lost that summer to the cause as well. My parents were also pretty overprotective and my brother and I weren’t allowed outside of our small L-shaped driveway, so we actually rode our big wheels well past the time, and size limit, that most children do.
As an adolescent I can remember a handful of times I rode around the town with my friends; but from the age of 12 – 34 I did not ride a bike at all.
Last summer I spent most weekends at the shore. All the kids laughed and teased about my inability to ride a bike and by the middle of the summer they got me to hop on a cruiser and try it. No reason to act scared and silly about it; after all “it’s like riding a bike.” I rode 5 blocks to the beach, keeping my fear under wraps (hardly) and we made it. On the way home I fell off and the bike fell on top of me. That was enough for me to be sure that it is not like riding a bike and I walked the blocks for the remainder of the summer.
At 35 I decided enough was enough. For my birthday last February, I bought myself a bike. It sat in my dining room until last Thursday when I decided it was time to get out there and just do it.
I walked the bike about a half a mile before I felt mentally prepared to hop on and try to ride. I was giving myself all kinds of pep talks, all of which lead to “it’s like riding a bike.” After totally psyching myself up and being far enough away where no one could see me, it was do or die time. I hopped on said bike and started riding.
I was scared, but also felt incredibly free. I’d imagine this is what children feel like when their parents take off their training wheels for the first time. It was exciting and I was proud. I rode all the way around the Kelly and West River Drive loop, 8.2 miles. At times it got a little hairy, roots coming up from the ground caused bumps on the trail, people walking all the way across the path were hard to navigate around and this itch on my face was driving me a little batty until I braved letting go of the handlebars with one hand for a second to itch it. I didn’t fall off! Success.
I’ve ridden again two more times now and each time it is getting easier. Starting and stopping do still need a bit of work. Also, I did get hit by a giant bug, scream and nearly fall off this morning, but I was able to stay upright and keep pedaling! So yes, I’m still scared, but doing something scary is good for you. Very few things compare the adrenaline rush of fear. I’m pretty excited to simply be out there having fun and enjoying each mini-adventure that comes my way.