It’s been a while.
I’m all about getting back on the horse at the moment though, so I decided to pay attention to my email notifications this one time and use the Daily Prompt:
You see, I’m finally taking the time to prioritise my (non-existent) fitness levels and have decided to confront a skill I’ve been lacking at the same time. Two birds, one stone, and all that.
Long story short, we had a bit of extra money recently so I bought this little beauty:
Short story longer: I’ve never actually mastered riding a bike before.
Oh I tried. I really did. But I just wasn’t that into it as a little kid and by the time it became a bit of an issue – what with me growing up in the country and all – I was too old to get away with crashing about in public like an idiot.
OK so technically you’re never too old for that BUT when you’re just about a teenager? No way. No how.
I ended up asking my parents for a bike for my 13th birthday, fully intending to take the plunge. My Dad was so excited and took me out to a local park for some daddy/daughter bonding time where he could share his wisdom and shepherd me into this new-found freedom. It was going to be glorious.
Until it wasn’t.
I froze up pretty bad, unable to wrap my head around the necessary skills and terrified of falling. He decided to take a “tough love” approach and push me through that initial fear so I could see that it wasn’t so bad and I could conquer it.
Instead of persevering I screamed and cried, demanding that he let me get off the bloody thing. He dug his heels in, but underestimated my stubbornness.
Rather than a touching, teachable moment – possibly involving a montage with inspirational music (it was the end of the 80s after all) – we had a Mexican standoff in the middle of a damn PARK on a weekend. Everybody else there stopped and stared while I screamed and pleaded and wished I could die from the embarrassment.
Eventually he relented and we wheeled the bike back home in surly silence.
I never touched it again.
As I got older I still kind of wanted to try again sometime so we held onto that bike for years, even taking it with us when we moved to Sydney. Rather than freewheeling around the hills and lanes of the Inner West it leaned against a wall outside where it was slowly colonised by ivy.
(It was quite a pretty art installation in the end. Before my parents moved back out to the country they left it in the rear lane where it was snaffled up by a passerby in a heartbeat. Hopefully they treated it better than I did.)
Now, almost a quarter of a century after that day, I figured I was ready to try again. I’ve spent much of my life looking like a fool in public since then so surely – surely – I could handle it this time.
I walked proudly out of the bike shop bubbling with excitement. My bike was shiny and red and gorgeously retro, and it came with a beautiful name – Audrey – already painted on. I was in a new town where I barely knew anyone and there were plenty of wide sidewalks and secluded parklands for me to practise on.
OK so ALL the kids ride everywhere and everyone’s more nosy than I’m used to and DAMN the cars drive fast…
And the kookaburras seem to cackle more loudly as I wheel my bike past them…
And the kangaroos really know how to stare at you until you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome……..
Not this time, you treacherous brain! I won’t be talked out of it.
I got Audrey home and had to put her straight in the shed, as we already had plans for the afternoon. The next day I got her out in the back yard and mounted the seat.
It felt pretty good.
My plan was to just practise coasting without pedalling and get used to balancing on two wheels first, before I got out in public and tried actually riding it.
It went… well? I guess? Kind of.
This was still as hard and disheartening as I remembered. I could feel all the old neuroses and intense embarrassment bubbling up from my subconscious. Not gonna lie, I cried a bit.
I had to put Audrey away and rethink my strategy. This was going to be even more challenging than expected.