Look, Dad, No Hands

December 18, 2008
When I was about five, my dad taught me how to ride a bike. It looked like so much fun, and it didn’t seem too hard. I mean my dad just got on and went. I was especially confident after mastering training wheels. But when the training wheels came off, my safety net gone, I finally realized that riding a bike isn’t as easy as it looks.

“Ah! Dad, help me! I don’t know how to do this! I’m gonna crash!” I screamed as I careened across the parking lot, oblivious to the fact that all I had to do to stop was pedal backwards. My prophecy turned out to be correct, I quickly took a spill. We tried again. “O.K, Dad, now don’t let go until I tell you to,” I instructed. I started riding again and my dad promptly let go of the seat. I freaked out and started yelling again which led to my feet flying off the pedals, and I went down once more. After absorbing the blow I began crying and yelling simultaniously. I wasn’t so much hurt as I was mad. “Dad, you lied! I told you not to let go, BUT YOU LET GO!”

“Hold your horses, let’s see what the damage is. Ooh, looks like you left a skin deposit there,” Dad said, referring to my double skinned knees. He helped me up and I yelped with pain. We made the slow journey home. Dad wheeled my bike while I sulked in silence.

The next time we practiced I made some progress. I had learned how to work the brakes, and sometimes I was able to stop before completely crashing. As my confidence grew, we advanced to riding on the sidewalk instead of the wide-open parking lot. I had made it about a block without even teetering a bit.

“Look, Dad, I’m actually riding! I can ride a bike!”… CRASH! By shifting my attention to hollering with joy I lost my focus and drove right into a bush. Dad pulled me out with yet two more skinned knees and bush branches all over. I was such a sorry sight to behold that he couldn’t help but let out a chuckle.

With much more practice I could competently ride a bike for more than a block. The feeling I got when I finally conquered that little bike is irreplaceable. I learned two major lessons from the bike riding experience: 1) Life is hard, but when you keep at it, you can accomplish anything. 2) If you’re lucky you can get out of almost any situation with just a couple skinned knees. People say riding a bike is something you will never forget. The victorious conquest of my small two-wheeler gave me my first taste of being on top of the world, and that is something I will always remember.

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