Just Like Riding a Bike

“Riding a bicycle is the summit of human endeavour – an almost neutral environmental effect coupled with the ability to travel substantial distances without disturbing anybody. The bike is the perfect marriage of technology and human energy.” ~ Jeremy Corbyn

Bikes over Cars 

One of the cool things about Nantucket is that most people ride bikes. While it isn’t carless like Fire Island, (I wish it was!) they have an extensive network of bike paths that make it easy to get around. When my cousin asked if I wanted to rent a bike, I was scared shitless hesitant, but I wasn’t going to let that hold me back.

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Guys I have not ridden a frickin’  bike in fifteen years. Fifteen Frickin’ years!

Let that sink in. I am a mermaid! Mermaids do NOT ride bikes! We ride surf boards! And lay on boats. We do not bike!

Now that we have clarified that little disclaimer, I hoped on a bike and rode it like a champ…..Or not.

Legal Little person

One of the reasons I have not ridden a bike is because I am short. Like I can get it on my drivers license, I am LEGALLY short. So finding a bike that actually fits me, is a trial and a half because they are made for ALL the giants!

We ended up renting bikes from Easy Rider. They attached baskets, delivered and picked them up for us. It was under a hundred for the whole week, which was a great deal, especially on an island. You can also tell them your height, which mine may or may not have gotten lost in translation.

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I tried the bike out and having not been on one since the era of above mentioned diapers, thought it was fine. Akward AF, but fine.

The bike won

We went out to dinner that night and oy vey was it a lesson in being humble and letting go of ego.

I never knew bikes could brawl, but they can, and it beat my legs to a pulp. I looked like I had engaged in some very suspect activity. The bike was a tad to big with the handle bars as high as my chest, and I couldn’t even put my feet down, even with the bike tilted.

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I admitted I was ridiculously uncomfortable. Paired with also being afraid I was going to make an idiot of myself, (which I did, and I did not melt from embarrassment) I looked like a statue riding a bike.

Which guys, if you ride bikes you know you can NOT ride like a statue! It does not work, You got to bend your knees, and pedal, and most importantly you have to breathe to help you relax. Which I was not doing.

Letting go of ego

The next day we switched my bike out for one that was much smaller. Even my cousins had said the other bike was to big for me.

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While it was easier to navigate, the reality was, I was using my height as an excuse so I didn’t make an idiot out of myself.

I am a perfectionist to a T. I have to ace everything I do. As a skater, my coach would get mad at me, because I wouldn’t move on to another sequence or jump, if I hadn’t perfected the one I was working on.

The reality is, you are never going to perfect something. You can be damn good at it, but you cannot perfect it and you will make yourself crazy attempting to.

The only way you can be good at something is if you practice. I hadn’t ridden a bike in fifteen years, there was no way I was going to be “Good” at it.

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It is okay

So many people ride bikes, it is like a right of passage in the states, taking off the training wheels and peddling on a two wheeler. While as kids we are hesitant and even a little scared, we don’t fear embarrassment, we channel our excitement and let go. And when we fall, which we are going to, we get back up and try again.

As adults, we fear that embarrassment, we aren’t suppose to fall, we SHOULD know how to ride a bike. We forget that we aren’t born knowing everything. It is why we are taught how to walk, and talk. Why we go too school to learn math and reading skills. As we get older and start new jobs, we are still learning. And yes sometimes we have to relearn tasks and activities.

As a figure skater, every time I had a growth spurt (which wasn’t often) I had to relearn jumps. I had the fundamentals, but my body changed and I had to adjust to it accordingly. Yes, I rode a bike when I was a kid, but my body was different, and mentally I was more free. It was okay to make mistakes. It was okay to NOT know everything.

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And it is STILL okay.

The first few times we went anywhere longer then a mile, I was white knuckling the handle bars, and so tense, I am surprised I didn’t fall off my bike from lack of oxygen. I wasn’t breathing. I was more concerned about making a fool of myself then letting go and enjoying the process.

And I did make a fool of myself.

AND I survived.

The more I peddled, the more I “practiced,” I felt my confidence grow. By the end of the week, I felt like a friggin queen riding my bike around the island. Who said mermaids can’t ride a bike?

I even talked about buying a bike, because I didn’t want to lose my skills, but I think the real reason I didn’t want to feel that fear and embarrassment again. The truth is, those emotions aren’t bad, they aren’t “negative” they can be quite positive and a motivator if you let them be. By pushing through them, I gained a new found confidence and a love for an activity that I though had just been a childhood pastime.

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Yup, definitely just like riding a bike.

Did you ride a bike as a child? Do you still? What is something you haven’t done in awhile?