I have never been much of a bike rider. I want to be. Those who coast around the neighborhood make the ever-dreaded exercise look so effortless. The equipment seems minimal: the bike and a helmet.
But for me, it is never as easy as it looks. Perhaps that’s because of my bike-riding history. It wasn’t until I moved in 3rd grade that I was forced to learn how to ride. Nothing in my childhood environment precluded me from learning. I had the bike. I had a family who encouraged me. Only one factor prevented me from committing to the learning process. I was scared to skin my knee, which would mean that I couldn’t win beauty pageants! Of course! Looking back, this makes me smile so hard. Typical 3rd grade analysis- probably not. It’s ironic that someone who wanted to win beauty pageants at 10 could care less that her hair is graying at 50. But at that time, I had to get my priorities straight.
Our move several blocks away was the event that encouraged me to change these priorities. Nightly visits to our future home took our family of five down the street to a nearby neighborhood. The mode of travel: bikes. Because I couldn’t ride, I was forced to either walk or stay home. It didn’t take long for me to realize that a future pageant win was not enough to keep me from enjoying this family time. After 5 days, I was coasting down the hills to our new house with the rest of them. Yes, I fell and skinned my knee. And elbows. And cheek. But I also earned memories of sharing the anticipation and wonder of our home popping up before our eyes.
So whenever I see young and old chugging away on their bikes, I don’t think about the pain but of the chance for memories this activity brings. The phrase “It’s as easy as riding a bike” takes on a different yet special meaning.