Wednesday, February 4, 2009


"Cycling and swimming are things that, once learnt, can never be forgotten." - or so they said. My parents were keen bikers, and they gifted me my first BI-cycle (as opposed to TRI-cycle - that safe, sturdy, secure, sweet little mode of childhood transport), when I was about eight or nine.

The bicycle fascinated my dad, because its colourful contours were so different from the plain outlines of his own boyhood bike. It fascinated my brother, because it promised reckless speed and wind-in-the-hair freedom. It scared me for that very same reasons. The colourful contours appeared wobbly and shaky (there were no supporting training-wheels). The promise of speed was more a threat of an ignominious fall-flat-on-my-face-as-I-crashed.

But in a family of enthusiastic bikers, when even my saree-clad mother got up on the bike to demonstrate see-how-easy-it-is, I couldn't voice my misgivings. And so, the lessons began, in the not-so-smooth grass meadow near our house. At first, my father would push us from behind, then as we learnt to gather speed and the balance automatically came, he would let us go on our own, free and flying on two wheels (a lesson in how to take one's steps in life's journey as well).

My brother picked up the rudiments early on. As for me, I was too conscious of the surroundings to enjoy the wind-in-my-hair and the whirl-under-my-feet. The stones and bumps in the meadow rattled me, the children playing at the side rattled me, people behind me rattled me, and I was so distracted by all of these that I banged smack into the brick wall at the end of the meadow. The front wheel was damaged, but not as much as my pride.

Till today, I cannot get up and get down properly from a bicycle. Only if I get an unlimited unhindered expanse of space will I attempt to ride a bike into the dizzy unknown. Otherwise, I prefer my own two legs, thank you very much.

P.S : Needless to say, MY FIRST BIKE very soon became MY BROTHER'S FIRST BIKE, to my chagrin and my parents' disappointment.

P.P.S : It was Michelle's monthly Write-Away contest at Scribbit which made me write this post of ignominy.



Anonymous said...

This post made me emotional as it reminds me my childhood days...

Aleta said...

Yikes! Bikes! Did you need to bring up this topic? I can't ride a bike, so when people say, "It's as easy as riding a bike" - I make a face!

Much like you, unless I have a LOT of empty, open space, I don't get on a bike. Much to Greg's disappointment.

I told him early on when we first started dating that I don't ride bikes. I don't have a good sense of balance and... well... I can't turn! Sure, I can go straight, but if I have to make a turn, I need it be an extremely wide turn, otherwise I lose balance and fall. My brother, Rob, didn't believe it until he saw it himself!

Well, Greg didn't believe me and for our first Christmas that we dated - ask me what he bought me. When Rob saw it, he shouted, "A BIKE! You bought Aleta A BIKE?!!"

My "bike" is with Roda now, Rob's wife. She didn't know how to ride a bike either, but Rob put training wheels on my bike. Yes, that's right, training wheels for an adult bike. Go figure, but at least she's getting use of it!

Sorry to ramble on ~

Koel said...

I always had a wish to learn, with lot of persuasion from my parents... but the place where we lived did not have any open spaces was bang on the main road....and then years passed by and I realized that I am too old to be seen "learning" to ride a bike :-) I do feel embarassed in groups where I am the odd one out in terms of cycling competence. But them I have learnt to live with greater deficiencies in life and with the realisation that no-one is perfect ;-)

lopamudra said...

I always loved bikes! My bike was red and I rode it to school which was 4kms away from 3rd grade onwards.I went to my singing lessons,badminton lessons, my friends place all riding my 'Hero'red bike! I still have it at home.My mother never had the heart to sell or give it away to anybody!

my space said...

I cannot ride one :-(....but have spent time running behind my children while they were learning!

Mampi said...

I am proud of myself
I can I CAN ride a bicycle.
This was a lovely post,
Thanks for sharing.

seanag said...

Learning to ride a bike was a very significant thing for me, because it taught me something about the way in which I learn.

My father did the thing that dads do, pushing me valiantly down the street and hoping that after he let go, I would find my balance.

I didn't.

In fact, if we had just proceeded on this way, I would probably have given up. But one day, I was over at my friend's house and we were fooling around with her much smaller bike. There was no pressure to succeed, it was just hanging out. I sat on her bike, and I suddenly intuited the way you ride a bike. I understood balance. I went home, and tried it on my own bike, and found that I was right, and I could do it. Slowly, but stubbornly, I got it.

I am sure that my father's efforts helped provide the background for this. But it is revealing to me that until I figured something out using my own methods, I couldn't do it. And I think that has been true of much else in life as well.

The Weekend Blogger said...

I was crazy about my first bicycle and I rode it around the tea gardens like crazy even though I was barely six years old ! My first taste of independence. I pretty much did my own thing and went wherever I pleased much to my mom's annoyance. This post has brought back so many memories, maybe I should do a post on this sometime !!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, everybody for taking us along on a ride on your memory-bike.

MoziEsmé said...

you captured childhood moments so well...