I have a confession.
It's an especially embarrassing one that I've kept to myself, except for a few close friends and family.
I can’t ride a bike.
Well, not that well, anyway. Not good enough to not almost fall off of it every time I try to turn.
It’s something that has bothered and embarrassed me about myself since I was a kid. My parents say they tried to teach me but I refused to ride again after falling off. I have no memory of this so I’m just gonna go ahead and not believe it. It totally doesn’t sound like something I’d do (reality: it totally sounds like something I’d do).
Growing up I’d casually steer conversations away from this subject whenever it came up.
Friend: Riding bikes is fun! Don’t you think?
Me: Let’s go read!
I didn’t want anyone to know because I was embarrassed at my inability to do something that just seemed to be a part of childhood that I was missing out on.
I lived in fear of people finding out. My closest friends knew, of course, since I was always the one preventing them from riding bikes when we were together. But I’d avoid telling most people.
For the most part it wasn’t too big of a deal. Except for when it was. I went to a sleepover one time in middle school with a group of girls, most of whom I wasn’t super-close with. They decided in the morning that they wanted to ride their bikes to a convenience store a couple of miles away. I couldn’t get away from it. I had to tell them. It went about as well as you’d expect. There was lots of disbelief. No one could understand how I just couldn’t ride. There even was an attempt to teach me. I guess they thought I’d magically learn in 30 minutes and we could continue on with their plans.
I felt awful. I could sense the bitterness as we walked all the way there. It was my fault we were doing it this way and I wasn’t allowed to forget that fact.
And it was a long walk. And it was hot, if I remember correctly.
My super-secret secret was now out for the whole world to know because you know that wasn’t something those girls would keep to themselves. It was just too weird, too outside of what they knew as normal. And I got teased about it. Of course.
Other than that traumatic experience, which had to happen at one of the most angsty times of my life, it wasn’t really too much of an issue.
Until I went to Germany for a week on my way to Vienna. I’d decided to stay with Chris’ grandparents to ease my transition into a foreign country. Now, biking is a way of life around there. Everyone bikes just about everywhere. So when Opi found out I couldn’t ride one he made it his personal mission to teach me.
I was 21. I guess it was time.
And so with a few fumbles, false starts and almost running the poor man over when he tried to prevent me from crashing into a neighbor’s car, I got it. Sort of. I still didn’t trust myself to travel on anything other than a straight path and probably wouldn’t be traveling on it into town, but I could stay upright, which was a bonus.
I haven’t done much with bikes since, I’m sad to say. Except for an unfortunate attempt a few years ago where I almost ran over a small child on a bike path.
At least she was wearing a helmet.
But lately Sebastian has been really, really into riding his tricycle. He loves it and rides it every day. (Don’t tell him but he’s getting a bigger one for his birthday in a couple of weeks!) And he wants someone to ride with him. If Chris is here it’s fine, but throughout the day I’m forever accosted with “ride bikes with me, Mommy!” And I feel bad that I have to tell him no. I want to be able to just hop on and go with him.
So when it came time to order myself something for my birthday (what? You don’t do that?) I thought it was time to get back on that horse. Or bike. Whatever.
I’d ridden my neighbor’s some, and she’s got a cruiser, which I’d never really thought about before. But it’s amazing! So much more comfortable than those other 10 speeds, off-trail, whats-its bikes with all the whistles and shiny parts. I just wanted something that would go. Comfortably.
So this was my gift:
Isn’t it pretty? And adorably retro?
I’d love to say that I got on it the first time and was able to ride easily. But that wasn’t really the case. It’s hard and I’ve got a plethora of bruises, including some especially dark, large and hideous ones on the back of my calf to go with my stupid ladder bruise on my arm. Basically I look like someone ran me over with a truck. Or took a crowbar to me. Also, left turns don’t seem to make any sense to my limbs.
But today was easier than yesterday. And yesterday was easier than Saturday.
I’ll get there. Eventually Sebastian and I will take off down the road, riding bikes and turning left with abandon.
And maybe I’ll stop accidentally riding into the pool in our driveway.