I don’t remember my first bike ride at all, but I do have many fine memories of the fun and freedom of riding bikes at every stage of my life. I can only conclude that I never had to learn how to ride a bike because I’ve been cycling since the day I was born–much like a baby horse begins walking the minute it falls out of the mama horse.
Tricked you! That wasn’t really the end. I couldn’t tell a story about a first bike ride that didn’t even have a description of an actual first bike ride in it. That just wouldn’t be right. Therefore, since I don’t remember my own first bike ride, I’ll relate a short story of somebody else’s first ride, in which I played a minor role.
My daughter, Kaylyne (I call her Kaylo), was about 7 years old when she first expressed any interest in riding a bike. In her earlier years, before the Feeshko and I adopted her at age 6, she had absolutely no exposure to bicycles–or to many other opportunities that most of us take for granted. So when she asked me to teach her how to ride, I think I was even more excited than she was.
I pulled my son’s old bike, which he had outgrown, out of the garage and then Kaylo and I walked two blocks to the parking lot of her elementary school. I apologized about it being a boys bike, but she didn’t care. I gave her a few basic instructions and let her climb onto the seat while I held her upright. She pedaled and I ran behind her, still holding on to the seat, as most dad’s do when teaching their kids. Then I let go and she promptly fell to the ground. She got up and was ready to go again. The second attempt had the same result. So did the third . . . and the fourth.
“I have an idea,” I said, “I’ll go buy a set of training wheels and we can try this another day.”
“No!” she insisted, “I want to keep trying right now.”
And so we did. Time after time after time she toppled to the ground in the most frightening and painful ways. She had more than a couple of abrasions on her arms and legs but she refused to give up. I admired her fortitude, but I was ready to give up myself.
I’d estimate she endured at least 40 crashes before I thought I saw a little progress. A couple more attempts and then, UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!, she kept riding after I let go. I chased after her and I cheered for her and she kept going and going. I don’t know if you can imagine how proud I was of her. Even as I write this, tears are kind of welling up in my eyes.
Anyway, to my knowledge, she never fell again. She’s had a couple bikes of her own since then but, alas, she doesn’t ride much anymore. Like most kids her age (26) these days, she prefers to drive a car.