I know what you’re thinking – who can’t ride a bike? Thing is, a lot of people can’t ride a bike, or swim, or skate, and the longer you go without learning, the scarier and more impossible it feels to take the plunge.
Not being able to ride a bike was my dirty little secret. I’ve carried it around with me for 32 years, and there have been more times than I can count over the years where I’ve been in awkward situations around bikes and felt too embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t ride.
So despite my exaggerated fear of getting on a bicycle, I decided, at the ripening age of 32, that I would learn. I asked my hubby to buy me a bike for my 32nd birthday and, ironically, this seemed like the perfect time to buy my 2.5-year-old her bike too! She’s mastered the scooter we got her for Christmas and it was clear she was even more ready than I was. So there we were, a 2-year-old, and a 32-year-old, learning to ride their bikes together in the parking lot of our apartment building. I won’t lie, I felt a little jealous of my daughter’s training wheels but hey ho ( the joys of being a grownup).
I'd be lying if I told you it's been smooth sailing or that people haven't stared at me or made comments like ‘oh, how come you don’t know how to ride a bike?’. Yet others have cheered me on enthusiastically, offered genuine words of support, or even admitted to me that they can't ride either! The support has been welcome, of course, but the truth is, at 32, I no longer care what anyone thinks as I struggle to find my balance wobbling from one foot to the other. As an older child, teenager or even young person in your 20s, it can be hard to admit that you can’t do what everyone and their toddler can do – but now, I'm more comfortable in my skin than I've ever been and I feel motivated by the thought of family bike rides, and of having my bike to turn to as I try to stay active later in life.
This might feel a little late to learn, but chances are, I have many more years ahead of me than I have behind me – so the hours I've spent wobbling around on my bike will give me back the gift of an activity that I can turn to for many years to come, and that I can enjoy anywhere, alone or with people I love. That’s worth it if you ask me. Hell, even just the feeling I got the first time I actually rode a few meters without falling was worth it – and yesterday when I rode again, and again, and even rode in circles, resulted in a celebratory evening of red wine and Lindor because I achieved something that has scared the hell out of me for my whole entire life.
I still need practice to gain the second-nature skill and confidence I need and that I see the kids in my neighbourhood riding with (*blush*). But I’ve found my balance now and learning with my daughter, however seemingly ridiculous, is actually super fun and really special. My husband has been our patient coach and we're both on our way!
I didn’t really plan to proclaim my dirty secret, nor my corresponding achievement, to the world. But there have been a handful of people who've found my experience an inspiration and who have insisted I blog about it in the hopes that it will encourage other people who are scared to learn how to do something later in life to just go for it – so what’s your dirty little secret?