Up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know how to ride a bike. And while everyone has always pointed out that riding a bike is like, well, riding a bike (meaning it’s easy, and if you’ve known how to do it at some point in your life, you can do it again).
The last time I remember riding confidently was through the suburbs of Dunkeld and Rosebank on my pink bike – I don’t think I even wore a helmet, nor did any of us, actually.
And then, perhaps as my confidence over the years faltered, so too did my ability to ride a bike. I think I’d tried unsuccessfully a few times in my teens and early 20s, and since I couldn’t hack it, I pretty much thought and *knew* that I couldn’t ride a bike.
This wasn’t a great lesson to pass on to you, As parents we tell our kids to keep trying, even when they fall. We guide them when they walk, we teach to ride bikes, and we try hold them upright when they lose their balance. And yet I couldn’t guide myself that way – I just told myself “I couldn’t”.
And then, in Paris in December, I decided to give bicycling a shot. There were bikes to rent, that didn’t look to intimidating to ride, and so what if I fell over in the Tuileries Gardens on a winter evening? I needed to try it and hopefully toss a fear or inability out as I head to 40 early next year.
So, we rented a bike, and I pushed it across Rue de Rivoli to Tuileries, nervous and close to backing out. Andrew helped set me off, and I rode. I rode! After about three times of him starting me off, I could do it on my own, and I imagine the last time I felt so liberated and capable on wheels was when I first learnt to ride a bike when I was about six or seven.
I rode up and down some of the gardens, as dusk was falling, and against the magnificent city lights. I posed with the Eiffel Tower and big wheel in the background, and I suspect it will be one of those pictures I will look at it with a longing (to recapture that feeling) and with glee (for getting on that damn horse again, so to speak).
Am I ready to navigate the streets of Joburg or Paris on a racing bike? Probably not. Am I ready to get a simple bike to ride around parks and quiet suburbs with you? Absolutely.
Do I berate myself mildly for saying “I can’t” for so many years, and not saying “I can try”, definitely. But it’s okay now… I’ve given myself a ticket to ride.
Yours with hair blowing in the wind,
PS: This thing is quite addictive. We even rented bikes in St Francis, and I loved it! I only fell once on more or less flat surfaces
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