When you hear that you are going to read a story about learning to ride a bike, you probably imagine a story like this: a young kid, with their parents. Decked out in safety gear due to their overprotective mother, and a father who keeps pushing them off on their own because “that’s how he learned”. The clueless kid will probably fall a few times, but in the end figure it out. This story is not like that. WIll there be some pretty great falling-off-the-bike stories? Of course, we’re all human. But the thing that made this story very different: While most people probably learned at six or seven, I learned how to ride a bike when I was twelve.
TRIAL ONE: THE FAILURE
It was another great day for six-year-old me: Getting over five hours of sleep, having my lunch made for me, getting homework that only took fifteen minutes that I still complained about. Everything was just fine that day, until my dad decided that there was something was wrong with my bike. And for the record, there was nothing wrong with my bike. It was a pink Barbie bike with rainbow flowers and a basket in the front filled with dead ants. What can I say? I was a weird kid. But my dad was not concerned with what color my Barbie bike was, or if I might be a sociopath. His problem was with the two little wheels that were on either sides of my bike. I thought my training wheels were just fine, even though every other kid I knew had gotten rid of them. And yet, without my permission, he took the only reason I could ride a bike without falling off away. So when it came to riding the bike again, I was forced to do it like everyone else.
My parents tried helping me, but I wanted to do it on my own. So I got on my bubblegum pink bike, stood up straight, put my feet on the pedals, and… went absolutely nowhere. I was so scared, I was practically shaking. Finally, after hours of trying and going nowhere, my parents let me stop. Little did they know that I would avoid riding the bike for another four years, until I was ten.
TRIAL TWO: SOMEHOW WORSE THAN THE FIRST FAILURE
The weather was perfect. It was warm enough to where I felt like I was being wrapped in a blanket, but not so hot it felt like I was in an oven. I could smell freshly cut grass from outside my window, it was one of those perfect summer evenings where the sun didn’t go down until 9:00. Everything was playing in my favor, until my parents decided once again that it was time to ride that dreaded bike. I walked outside to a beautiful, peaceful landscape that would soon be shaken by me and my boisterous bike. I groaned as I put on my helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. “Lizzy, riding a bike is a skill that you need to know,” my mother stressed.
“Everyone else your age can ride one,” my father added. But their words did nothing but pressure me, and even if that was what their intended purpose, it was not what I needed in that moment. But they were persistent, so I took my bike to the neighborhood street, put my feet on the pedals, and just rode. I was going so fast the wind was brushing through my frizzy hair, and in that moment I realised why so many people love riding their bikes. “Do you need some help?” my mom called. It was then I realized that I hadn’t moved an inch. In my mind I knew how to do it, but in reality I was just too nervous. But why? Why was I so scared to do the thing that seemingly every other kid could do? It bothered me, that thousands of kids not even to my intellectual level (which was not that high, but higher than a six-year-old’s) could do something that I couldn’t do. So I stood up straight, put my feet on the pedals, and… froze. I couldn’t do it. Then, without even trying, I fell into the ditch besides me, not only in physical pain, but mental pain, too. How can everyone but me ride a bike so easily? I inquired. And with that, I avoided the bike, until a few years later when I was twelve.
TRIAL THREE: THE SUCCESS?!
“Lizzy, what do you mean you can’t ride a bike?” Alexa laughed. Although Alyssa and Alexa were my best friends, my bike skills were quite shameful, and I tried to keep them out of conversation as much as possible.
“I mean, I can’t ride one.” I replied.
“But everyone can ride one,” Alyssa refuted. Of course. That again.
“We have bikes you can try out,” Alyssa said. We were hanging out at her house, which had been a fun experience until bike-riding had come up.
“Yeah, come on. You need to know how to ride a bike.” Alexa backed her up.
And so here I was again, on a bike, too scared to move. Alyssa and Alexa were circling the streets around me. I knew how, but I couldn’t. I can do this. I’m the only one holding me back, I thought. So I stood straight up, put my feet on the pedals, and rode. With my heart racing, my hair flying, and a smile evident in my face, I knew this time it was real.
After that day, I had learned many important lessons. First, I had learned how to finally ride a bike. Second, I learned that sometimes, a little peer pressure isn’t all that bad, especially if it is from someone you trust. And lastly, learned that lots of the time, when I think that I can’t do something, usually I’m the only one who is keeping myself from doing so. If I tell myself that can do it, I will do it.