It’s like riding a bike, they say. but what happens if you don’t know how?

January 20, 2016

Dear Max

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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  • Gina

    I love it!

    I never ever learned to ride a bike. I remember I had a pink one with fairy wheels and it got left in the rain and the chain rusted and that was that.

    A few weeks ago I attempted to ride Aarons bike (a bit small and it has fairy wheels) and I didnt die so maybe I will attempt to learn to ride too 🙂

    January 20, 2016 at 8:48 am Reply
    • Tanya Kovarsky

      Woohoo – hope you have many more rides!

      January 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm Reply
  • Bronwynne

    Your face says it all!!

    January 20, 2016 at 9:04 am Reply
    • Tanya Kovarsky


      January 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm Reply
  • Toni

    That explains that absolute glee on your face!!!

    January 20, 2016 at 9:25 am Reply
    • Tanya Kovarsky

      Totally! And a bit of fear I would fall and break my neck (even though I was going so sloooooowly) 🙂

      January 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm Reply
  • cat@jugglingact

    It will bring great adventures! Enjoy the ride

    January 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm Reply
    • Tanya Kovarsky

      Aaah, thank you so much!

      January 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm Reply
  • Cassey

    Awesome-sauce. One day I’ll try the bike thing 🙂

    January 20, 2016 at 2:35 pm Reply
  • shebee

    Oh wow – go you! I absolutely love the bit where you say you will try instead of saying you can’t. I need to adopt that.

    January 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm Reply
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