Learning to Ride

Having finally purchased my shoes, helmet, and all sorts of other gear recently, I finally had the opportunity today to go on my first proper bike ride with my Illini 4000 official Felt bike. It was a lot of fun, once I figured out how to get my cleats properly snapped in the pedals. I’m home for break so I rode around my neighborhood, and riding it for the fist time made me think about the first time I rode a bike at all. Most people who know how to ride a bike probably remember a joyful and satisfying time. For me, it was a bit different.

I should explain first off, I was a bit different than most kids when I was little. I was very much an indoor kid and would probably always prefer reading or doing a jigsaw puzzle than playing tag or T-ball. I was usually pretty easygoing, but sometimes I could get very frustrated if things didn’t go my way. Learning to ride a bike was definitely one of those times.

I enjoyed riding with my training wheels, and one day when I was 6 or 7 my parents decided it was time for them to come off. At first, I was game, as watching my parents and older brother ride without them seemed like a lot of fun. I spent about an hour with my mom one day getting pushed, struggling, and eventually falling, as it goes with any kid learning to ride a bike. I did have a few good runs, but it always ended with me not so gracefully tumbling onto my elbow pads in the grass.

Eventually my mom called it a day and we went inside. By no account had I successfully learned how to ride without training wheels. However, I must have believed that those few decent runs counted as a success, I had mastered how to ride a bike, and I never had to do it again. This combined with my “indoor kid” tendencies made me very sure that I didn’t need to try to learn to ride without training wheels any more.

Despite this, the next day my dad asked if I wanted to go out and try again. I insisted that there was no need since I learned the day before, and I was now happy to stay inside and play Game Boy. My parents were confused, as my inability still seemed to be pretty obvious to them, but I didn’t really see any need to head back outside. Eventually my dad coerced me to put the gear back on and head outside, but I grew more and more frustrated. The trials started again, and I continued to be unsuccessful, and that only drove me to become more and more upset. As my tension grew, I started to cry, and it eventually became me struggling to ride a bike through my tears.

After enough tries, I did finally get the trick and rode up and down the block. However, there was absolutely no sense of satisfaction, in fact quite the opposite. When I returned to the driveway, I haphazardly dismounted and unceremoniously dropped the bike on the ground, and delivered the most infamous quote of the day: “There, I did it! Can I go inside now?”

Needless to say, I learned to love biking over the years, and am now extremely excited to begin outdoor training with I4K and depart on the ride in May. Here’s hoping that the first mile from New York doesn’t involve tears.

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