My bike didn’t have training wheels. Maybe they weren’t invented yet, because no one I knew had them either. At any rate, my bike not only had no trainers, it had long since lost other extras like handle bar grips and kickstand. One day when I was about six-years-old, my dad appeared with this full-size, one-speed, second-hand (at least) bicycle. His plan was for all his children to learn to ride. My two older siblings and even my little brother quickly accomplished this. For me, it meant I had to be tall enough to reach the pedals while sitting, or have the stamina to ride standing up while being poked in the small of the back by the seat (my little brother’s style). Also, I had to be brave enough to take the bumps and bruises of the inevitable falls. I could reach the pedals. I was not brave. But, I had a big sister.
Betty was three years older, about the smartest person I knew and, sometimes, she let me play with her. She said she would help me learn to ride. One afternoon, she held the bicycle while I climbed on, then she supported the weight of the bike and me while I pedaled around the yard. Finally, she declared I was ready for the sidewalk. We lived in an old neighborhood with many large, beautiful trees. However, the tree roots growing under the sidewalks had made them hazardous for walking, skating and biking.
“Don’t let me go!” I pleaded, agreeing to give it a try. Betty walked behind me holding onto the seat or the fender, keeping me straight as I wobbled along. I kept glancing back over my shoulder to make sure she was still there. She told me to watch where I was going, she wouldn’t let me fall. I got a little steadier and more secure. I could hear her footsteps alongside as she walked, then jogged, then ran to stay up with me. When I finally stopped, I realized that, at some point, she had turned loose of the bike, but continued to run beside me so I wouldn’t be afraid.
They say one never forgets how to ride a bicycle. I hope they are right. I know I have never forgotten some things that come clear to me when I think of the day I learned to ride.
Trust is necessary.
Balance is good.
Don’t look back. Focus on the path ahead.
It’s great to have help, but what a rush when I do it on my own.
Possessions hard to come by are worth taking care of. Don’t leave the bike out in the rain.