Training Wheels

It’s said you never forget how to ride a bicycle. I recently tested that hypothesis.

This is my bike. It’s a beach cruiser that I bought 9 years ago because my friend, and force of nature, Marcia, pushed me. At that point in time Marcia was an avid bike rider, took care of large dogs when their owners went on trips and walked them miles every day. I mostly sat at my desk and wrote. Anyway, the bike was not expensive. It was at a small bike shop and Marcia thought it might have fallen off a truck, but I gave them my credit card and walked it back to the house. Note the helmet I bought for my planned road trips.


A few days later, after Marcia had gone back to the Western Shore, I decided to ride my bike to the Saturday Farmers’ Market in St. Michaels. A quarter of a mile down the flat road in my development, my thighs were burning, but I was determined. And I did seem to remember how to ride. Gone were the flying-down-hills with my hair streaming behind me days, but I was staying upright. This bike didn’t have anorexic tires and no brakes and gears on the handlebars. I just needed to get my thighs in shape.

I made it to the market, bought a couple of things that I put in my bike basket and rode home. I may have gone out a couple times more, but somehow the bike migrated to the storage shed in the back and didn’t come out for nine years.

Occasionally Marcia would ask me about the bike. I think she felt bad for pushing me into the purchase. (Not your fault, Marcia. I take full responsibility.)

This fall we downsized to one car. We had one car for 11 years at one point and it worked. We worked from home then and didn’t need two cars. When we moved to St. Michaels we had just the one car but were soon both going in different directions for our various volunteer  activities and we got another car.

Now, with one car, seemed the perfect time to get the bike out of the shed. I took it to a local bike person to get it checked out. I wanted to make sure the tires hadn’t dry-rotted. I had a handlebar mirror installed. We brought it home in the trunk of the car.

That’s when I tried to get on it. Unlike the girl’s bike I had as a kid, this bike has a cross piece and I had to throw my leg over it. Not forgetting how to ride a bike assumed you could still lift your leg like a Rockette. But I was determined, so a little help from my right hand under my right thigh and I was astride. I hoped no neighbors were watching. Feet on the pedals and I was away. Well, not quite. Our driveway is gravel. Hard to ride on, so I put my feet down and pushed my way onto the blacktop.

My plan was to go around the circle a couple of times a day until I got my bike legs. That worked okay. I didn’t fall over, but thoughts of broken hips and arms intruded. I never remember thinking I’d break something when I was flying on my bike at age eight. Now it seemed a constant refrain. I kept hearing my yoga instructor saying, think it and it shall be. I don’t think a broken hip mantra was what she had in mind. Or the other intrusive image of a quick stop crotch and cross bar collision.

Cold and windy weather finally arrived. Surely I couldn’t be expected to go bike riding in that sort of weather. A gust might push me over. My prayers for snow were answered so the bike has taken up residence in our garage along with the plants I brought in for the winter. In the meantime I am practicing high kicks and knee squats in preparation for spring riding. I might even stop in at the bike shop and see if there are training wheels for adult bikes.

#gettingoldsucks; #elderriding; #nevergiveup