Oh To Be A Cyclist!

21 Aug

I was a late learner when it came to riding a bike, always having been content just mooching around and being the only girl in a group of boys. They played football; I made daisy chains by myself. They played water games, I was permitted to play but they knew not to get me wet or I would cry. I was allowed to take part in the reconstruction of Jurassic Park, but not allowed to shed a tear if I got eaten early on the game, for fear of never being allowed to play again. We had our chalked out battle lines, and we knew nothing different.
But when I turned seven, a girl called Katy moved into the street with her little brother. We were alerted to the fact that there was a new child in the street when a little boy appeared in the cul de sac and went round and round on his little tricycle, so I went to investigate. It was her little brother. There was a girl!
She was the negative version of me, a little blond girl who liked to play with other girls and got offended by the taunts of the boys in the street; she was nothing like me but I was over the moon to have a girl to play with who was my age, and not my little sister.
And she could ride a bike. I had never learnt to ride, as I never needed to, content with being pulled along on a skateboard, or walking. But suddenly I wanted to; to fit in with her and the friends she had to play. I did have a bike, inherited from one of the boys who had outgrown it, and it now sat rusting in our garage; neglected in its potential to make a child happy.
To give you some background, our estate was built on a massive hill. Our garages sat at the top, my house half way down with very steep steps to the front door, and across the road a steep hill down to her house. My sister had suffered various accidents at the peril of the hill, but it had never really bothered me as I was fairly sensible and trouble free.
That was, until Katy decided to take it upon herself to teach me to ride a bike. We didn’t start gradually; I was introduced to riding in a baptism of fire, put on the bike at the top of our road and directed down to her garage. Of course I lost control, ending up a tangled heap of skin and metal, bones and bicycle spokes and garage door, and a face full of driveway. Scarred and bruised I cried my way home where my mother patched me up and advised wisely to begin to learn to ride on a flat patch of land. “Wait till Dad gets home” she said “he’ll show you.”
A few days later, I summoned the courage to try again and learned to ride slowly and surely, like a baby learning to walk. Soon I was confident and proud, and decided (somewhat unwisely) to have a go on a hill again. Up and down I went, Whizzing and whirring with gears changing and the wind in my hair until the last fateful; attempt when I came shooting down the hill and forgot to steer quickly at the end. My front tyre made contact with the kerb on the other side of the road, I went shooting off my bike and the handle bar somehow made contact with my face. The boys rushed to my aid, picked me up and took me into my god mother’s house where I was patched up, although the glorious black eye turned through the colours of the rainbow over the next few days, giving me a war wound to rival any boxer.
And for this reason and this reason only, I do not use Boris bikes in the capital, nor will I be entering the Tour de France this year.

8 Responses to “Oh To Be A Cyclist!”

  1. Frank Bishop August 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    It took me a couple years to learn to ride my bike, once I mastered it though, I was never off of it.
    I’m all grown up now and I don’t ride bikes anymore, a shame really. Maybe I will venture out into the bright light outside and ride around a little, at least until the bike seat starts to play having on my ass.

  2. mrsbongle August 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I was thirty before I learned to ride a bike and due to a collison with a wall which I cleared but the bike didn’t I’m not planning on doing the Tour De France anytime soon either.

  3. mairedubhtx August 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    That was a very good story. I reminded me about learning to ride a bike. I learned rather later also, and it was my uncle who finally taught me, as he had already taught his 3 boys to ride.

  4. Sandi Ormsby August 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I preferred hanging out with boys outside of school as that’s who was in my neighborhood and riding bikes was what it was all about…we’d ride at the catholic school across the street, down outside corridores, etc. They’d pop wheelies onto over the curb to get up the sidewalk…and I always had to stop, pick up my front end of bike and then peddal up the curb. A few times, I’d pull up on my handlebars and get my bike to bump up in the air a bit, but my bike was not made for that, it had hand brakes and girlie. One day, going down our driveway, I figured I could “pop” over the small curb from our driveway/lawn to the street. As I pulled up on the handlebars, the entire thing came out from the “neck” of the bike! I somehow landed on my feet, with bike seat perfectly behind me, the frame of the bike in my left hand, and my right hand holding the broken handlebars that had very jagged, sharp metal from where it detached from the bike. I was so lucky!

    However, I do have a sizable knee scar from a nasty spill I took in 5th grade. I’m now 40 and can remember how much it hurt to take a shower! I still like to bike ride, but mostly on a indoor spincycle to avoid being killed by car collision or inhaling exhaust fumes.

    lake forest, CA USA

  5. DesiValentine August 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    Love this! I almost laughed coffee through my nose, reading about your baptism by fire. My mum did the same thing to me. She put me on my yellow banana-seat bike with the tassles on the handlebars, put a big orange motorcycle helmet on my head, walked me to the top of a small hill and gave a good shove. I crashed head-first into a big green dumpster. Oh, the memories! (ha ha ha)
    Ironically, I’ve loved to ride my bike ever since, and still don’t own a car. Thanks for the Sunday morning chuckles!

  6. barb19 August 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I loved your story about leaning to ride a bike; shame you had those nasty falls but I guess it’s part and parcel of learning!
    After nagging my mother for a bike for years, I finally got one when I was 13. I loved it – it was my freedom (a bit like the feeling when you pass your driving test and get your first car)! I was never off it!
    I still have a bike and I still ride – and I still love it! Rather ride my bike than take the car!

  7. LittleMissVix August 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    I haven’t been on a bike since I was about 12 so I think I’d fall off too! There’s no I would in London so scary!

  8. Sandra Bell Kirchman August 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Funny recounting of your story. Not so funny at the time, eh?

    I was 8 when I learned to ride; my dad taught me. I don’t remember having any difficulties, but then Dad was a really good teacher. I don’t even remember falling off my bike; I must have, but it also must not have been too spectacular. Now roller skates, that’s a different story…for a different time.

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