Wednesday, 18 March 2015

As Easy as Riding a Bicycle...

"It's as easy as riding a bicycle!"

This is a phrase that I never did fully understand until very recently. I'm twenty three years old, live with my boyfriend in a little cottage that we responsibly pay rent for, ourselves, every month. I've paid off my car, pay insurance for it like a good grown-up, and even have a little retirement fund going. And yet, until yesterday, I couldn't ride a bicycle. When people said that phrase, I'd just think: "But riding a bicycle is DIFFICULT, not easy!"

I've been trying to figure out why I never did learn to ride when I was younger. At first, I thought it was because we lived in a place where learning to cycle was not made easy. When I was given my first bicycle, we lived up a very long, narrow dirt road, that was not exactly the safest environment for a young girl to learn to balance on top of a thin thing with only two points of wobbly contact with the ground. So, I went around in circles on a stoep, with my training wheels ON, and after going in circles for a while, I got bored, and stopped. I didn't start again.

I think that while I was in primary school, some of my friends tried their best to teach me how to ride... But I don't remember much about that. I suppose I wiped it from my memory, or didn't see it as particularly important at the time.

While in high school, my best friend also tried very hard to teach me how to ride her bicycle. She held onto the seat and pushed me along the length of her garden, but I wasn't too enamoured of the idea of cycling, and her garden was rather small and grassy, so I didn't particularly like the idea of falling or crashing into the wall at the other end... Eventually, she gave up on me, and quite frankly, I was relieved.
So, what changed? Why did I manage to learn how to cycle yesterday?

1) First of all, I kept at it. It didn't all happen yesterday. It took quite a few days. On day one, I rolled backwards and forwards on the bike, not even able to push off properly on one pedal before chickening out and putting my feet back on the ground. I was nervous, which I've always been. But I kept going, kept trying, and the next day I went outside and did it some more. Francois (that boyfriend that I mentioned earlier, the one I live with) pushed me just the right amount, giving me little snippets of advice and suggesting that I give myself more space, pointing out that hills are useful, all of those small, useful things. And with some time (less than I expected!) I was actually pushing down on the right pedal, and then the left, and then the right again. Actual cycling! So that was number one. Perseverance.

2) You won't persevere unless you have motivation. My whole life, I've never felt motivated to learn how to ride a bicycle. When Francois and I decided that we wanted to do something fun together, we thought a bit about lengthy hikes (days and days in the mountains), but that didn't really seem to stick as a great idea. When Francois suggested cycling in the mountains, however, that sounded more reasonable and MUCH more exciting. Speed! Greater distance! Who wouldn't want to cycle in the mountains, right? Right? Well, with that exciting goal in mind, we started shopping around for a bicycle, and I was just as excited about it as Francois was. Despite my lacking skills in the cycling arena, I was giddy over the new toy that we were looking for. The motivation for cycling had finally arrived, and I actually WANTED to do it. There we go. Now I know how to ride my bike.

Anyway, this all brings me back to that opening phrase: "It's as easy as riding a bicycle!"

Now I understand what that means. It means (to me, anyway) that it'll be a little tricky and unusual at first, even scary, but with the right amount of motivation, perseverance and practice, it'll feel natural and easy in no time... And that you'll never forget how to do it. Right? Well, I think that's what it means.

P.S. I think that it generally looks like I'm pretty good at life. Being a grown-up and doing responsible things and all of that junk. Actually, I'm pretty bad at it. Hopefully learning how to ride my bicycle with more skill will give me some good analogies for life and how to improve at all of those terrifying new things that people expect me to know how to do. Wish me luck!


  1. From my perspective, you are good at the adult thing. But I know what you mean. How others perceive me can be disconcerting when I know my own short-comings only too well! Maybe I should invest in a bike again :-)

    1. Thank you! I suppose I'm good enough at the adult thing, but I know where I could do better. I think you should buy a Harley!! :D

  2. Seems like writing is also as “easy as riding a bike” for you, since you do it so well, even when you’ve been away from it for a while. I’m looking forward to the next one! And in the meantime, enjoy your bike… :-)

    1. Thank you! ^^,
      And I am enjoying it, very much...