Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Bicycle, part 1: The Facts

Hannah: Team Type 1?  More like Team Failbike.
Once you learn how to do it, you never forget.  Isn't that what everyone says about riding a bike?  Five-year-olds ride bicycles.  70-year-olds ride bicycles.  I went to Rehoboth Beach for a long weekend last week, and it seemed like every other person I saw was on a bicycle.  Big ones, small ones, some with baskets, some with bells, some towing those little carts which hold children and/or pets.  These people were happy, lively, pedaling off to their respective destinations.

I cannot ride a bicycle.

I just never learned.  I had my dream bike when I was a little girl--a pink Schwinn with coaster brakes and a big white basket on the front.  There were silver and black training wheels to keep me from falling over.  I loved riding it, though of course I was a careful young thing and didn't like speeding like a maniac with the boys in the neighborhood who were my friends.  Yet, when it came time that I needed to start thinking about raising my training wheels and learning how to properly ride it, I was terrified.  I had a low tolerance for pain as a kid, and I was scared of falling.  Well-meaning family members were always telling me how easy it was going to be, or how I might fall a couple of times but everything would be fine after that.  I still didn't want to.  I would have kept those training wheels on my bike forever.  In fact, they did stay there until the day my parents sold my bike.  I was too big for it at that point, and it was like-new.  I hope it made some other little girl very happy.

Fast forward about 20 years to last weekend.  Matt, my mom, my aunt and my uncle can all ride bikes.  My aunt and uncle brought theirs from home.  There was a whole shed of loaners at the beach house where we were staying.  "I really think you could do it, Hannah," my mom encouraged me.  So Monday morning, Matt and I raided the shed out back for a suitable steed.  It didn't seem so bad at first.  It was a cute, 3-speed Huffy beach cruiser with a silver bell.  I wanted to hop on and just have it feel like second nature.  If a five-year-old can make this look easy, why couldn't I?

It wasn't easy.  I was begging Matt not to let go.  I couldn't feel a connection between my brain, my feet, and my hands.  If I was leaning left while trying to pedal, my next thought was not instinctually "Hey, turn the bars left!"  Many of my frightened thoughts were simply, "OH F**K I DO NOT WANT TO BREAK ANY BONES OR BLEED ON ANYTHING!!"

The outcome?  I did not learn how to ride a bike, but I feel like I made a little progress.  Maybe with time and more attempts, it'll be an accomplishment, because I feel stubbornly compelled to make this happen.  How cool would it be to learn how to ride a bike 20 years after I was diagnosed with diabetes so I can then maybe participate in a Tour de Cure?  

In the meantime, I will not be joining Team Type 1 anytime soon.

This has been the factual story of how I cannot ride a bike.  Coming Monday: more metaphorical thoughts on the subject.


  1. I can understand your fear. At my ripe old age, I still do not know how to swim. My husband grew up in Florida and cannot understand my fear of not being able to touch the bottom. Oh well (:-) Hang in there!

  2. Hey, maybe you didn't learn how to ride it, but you did something you were afraid to do, and successfully took a few of the steps required to ride a bike. Rome wasn't built in a day and you can't learn to ride a bike that fast either!

  3. keep trying. :o)
    I learned at the park on the grass - so if I fell over, it wouldn't be on concrete.

    Keep us posted on your progress! Good luck!!

    - Lindsey O.

  4. I never really learned either...friends keep saying that it's easy and I should try on grass or sand...I am way to much of a klutz for that!!!

  5. You can totally do it! Just don't put too much pressure on yourself.

  6. Dude(tte)! Way to go for trying it again! You faced a fear!

    I've been totally into biking again lately. I think I remember why kids like it. You can go fast...

    But you, don't go fast at first. Just go. :-)


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