It’s daunting tackling a new skill regardless of what it is, but trying a new skill which could lead to injuries. Or a skill that depends entirely on balance, of which you have none makes it a lot scarier. Now I’m not talking about braving a unicycle, or walking along a tightrope. But in fact mastering the skill of riding a bike. A skill learnt by most people when they are children, with fond memories of having stabilisers or a parent promising they won’t let go of the bike, but sneakily do.
Growing up in a flat in London, space was precious – there was none for a bike. Not to mention the cost factor of buying one, or needing someone to teach me. Over the years I never felt that I needed a bike, public transport was frequent, the super cycle highways or Boris’ bikes didn’t exist. Not to mention there were no facilities at school to leave a bike, we were even encouraged not to cycle along the busy roads.
Since July I was very lucky to buy my own car – Diablo, named after the colour red he is (and sometimes he is a devil). So I know your question, why would I want to learn how to ride a bike when I had my trusty, safe, enclosed four-wheeled friend? Well since July I have also been a Year in Industry Student and our team have wanted to do a team bike ride along one of our routes. But alas, a certain someone let them down by being unfamiliar with cycling.
For years friends and housemates have wanted to teach me, this month I finally gave in. Using my very kind housemates’ bike, my first day involved trying to stay on the actual bike around our cul-de-sac. In fact I wouldn’t have been vertical if it wasn’t for him holding onto the bike. However, as he left me alone for a second, somehow as if by a miracle I was peddling and actually staying up straight. My first time on a bike and I was actually (sort of) riding it! It was a huge feat for me, especially as he has a huge man bike and even with the saddle as low as possible my feet struggled to touch the ground.
Skipping to day two, we tried out the route we would be along for work, off-road heading towards the countryside – a gem protruding from the city centre. It was a very wobbly beginning, with my housemate holding on. As my confidence grew so did my ability, and before we knew it I was off cycling alone again, cycling the whole way back without any aid. Day three, we ventured out further in the blistering sun. In hindsight we should have taken water, who heads out in 22ºC +, exercising without water?
I’m so proud of myself, if you told me a month ago I’d be cycling, I’d have laughed. Come July our team bike ride is back on, and it will be my time to show everyone how well the training has been going, thanks to my generous housemate.