In this case, the new trick is riding a bike. And the old dog... well, that's me. Flattering, I know. Somehow I managed to make it 23 long years without learning how to ride a bike. I remember being young and carefree and riding my tricycle down the street with my sister and friends. And somehow that did not transition to riding a bicycle.
The real story of why I didn't learn how to ride a bike, I'm not actually sure. I have a very vivid story in my mind of what happened and why I didn't transition from 3 wheels to the infamous 2 wheeled version that everyone else in the world has learned but me. However, I've been informed by my mother that my version is not really what happened. Though, she can't quite recall the true story either. I think it's because my sister is her favorite and my story only slightly paints my sister in a bad light. Sometimes my sister gets a bad rep in the memory of my childhood (like the time she broke my finger during high school softball tryouts, leaving me to never play softball again). It's only because I was a devil of a child and instead of blaming myself for tragic life events, my mind has painted stories that may or may not be true of historical events in my life. It's a survival/coping mechanism I'm told. In all truthfulness, my sister is probably one of the best people I know. And I'm, well, not one of the best people I know. So I can see how the facts may have been messed up in 23 years. But nobody has the real story so we'll go with mine.
It started like this... the epic day I was going to learn how to ride a bike. I was a wee little thing with no fears or cares and that was the day my training wheels were coming off. I felt good. Everything was going to be great and I was going to be riding my big girl bike all around the neighborhood showing off.
I remember my dad behind me holding the bike steady and pushing me down a slight incline to get me started. It's all about momentum he told me. Once you start going, the bike holds you up, even for somebody who has as little balance as me (which hasn't changed in the passing years). And then there are some gaps (I think from the concussion I probably received). But I remember my sister being there behind me
There were moments in my life where I was like, hey, you should probably know how to ride a bike. But it wasn't necessary. Not in a city like Las Cruces which is a spread out hot desert. If you're going to have a bicycle as your main/only mode of transportation around the city, you're probably going to die. And besides, who wants to be the 13 year old out in the neighborhood with her Dad pushing her and her bicycle down the street teaching her to ride. Please. I had already skipped a grade (aka nerd central), was a chubby little kid, and was in the marching band. Add that little bike scene and there's no telling the kind of trauma I would have experienced. Kids are cruel.
So really, it wasn't a big deal I didn't know how to ride a bike. Until I got to the very green (hippie) city of Ann Arbor where everybody rides bikes... everywhere. It's like what they do. That's when I told myself, you know what, woman up. If a 6 year old can ride a bike, you damn well can too.
That's when I went in search of the perfect bike. I had conditions of course. If I was going to ride a bike, it had to be cute. No road bikes. A simple bike. And preferably a basket attached. Everyone around me seemed to be excited for my bike riding experience and set off finding me a bike. I was sent several emails containing craigs list bikes that fit my bill... and that's when this beauty appeared. And I had to have it.
So I drove an hour away... and shoved it in the back of my tiny versa. And drove an hour back to Ann Arbor.
And then I waited for months... until finally three of my guy friends took me to the park behind our house. And attempted to teach me to ride. It was tragic, and quite frankly a little pathetic. And there are videos... of which I am never going to show anybody. Ever. Turns out I still have no balance and I could barely keep the bike going for more than 30 seconds. After I almost ran straight into the guys and a picnic table (steering is hard work) I decided to call it a day and confirmed I'd go out later and try it. My matter of fact roommate told me he guessed my bike would end up in the basement never to be seen by me again and I would go along my jolly way of not knowing how to ride a bike. He was probably right actually... but because he said that, I had the instant need to prove him wrong.
A couple of weeks later, I took my bike out (now equipped with a cute pink bell... because duh, everyone needs a bell). I went to a secluded road behind our apartment that doesn't get a lot of foot or vehicle traffic and has a slight incline to it. And I tried to teach myself to learn how to ride a bike. For two straight hours I tried. And the people that did pass by looked at me like, who is this grown woman who doesn't know how to ride a bike? Is that even possible for somebody to not know how to ride a bike. And I was starting to get annoyed, and bruised up from the wheels hitting my legs when I would try to break because I still couldn't quite figure out the back peddling breaks. I was sweaty and the people kept giving me strange looks and I kind of thought I was going to cry. And that's when I finally cracked. A big black truck filled with four 20 something year old guys, turned the corner on to this dirt road. They very slowly started to approach me, and then slow down even more, and blatantly, open mouth stared at me and pointed and laughed... yeah I full on cracked.
So I starred straight at them. Jumped on my bike and furiously started ringing my bell like a straight up crazy person. It scared them. They rolled up their window. That'll teach them, I thought. Will Smith taught me how to fight bullies: full scale psychological warfare. Act crazy enough and everyone will leave you alone.
And as I was acting a crazy fool, it occurred to me that I was riding my bike... I was flying past the truck laughing like a maniac because I did it. After 23 years, I learned to ride a bike.
But man what I would have given to have somebody video tape the way those boys jumped as I started ringing my pink little bell, roll up the window, and then hit the gas peddle to get as far away from the crazy girl riding her bike.
Back Up! Back Up! Mind your business that's all. Just mind your business.