I have a confession to make. I do not know how to ride a bicycle.
Now that the gasps of shock and mockery have subsided, allow me to explain. Yes it’s true, in my nearly 27 years on this planet I have somehow avoided learning to ride. I have traveled by three, four and five wheels but never two. Somehow I managed to avoid that classic childhood moment of figuring out that secret balance or whatever it is that one needs to ride a bike. And when I say I somehow avoided it, I mean that I might have tried once without training wheels found it very hard and so vowed to ‘never learn this stupid thing, because who needs to ride a bike anyway.’
More often than not when I reveal this fact to somebody I am greeted with a wide-eyed look of bewilderment, followed with some sort of query as to how this can be. Which I always find somewhat amusing as it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Bikes and bike riding just never figured into my life. People are aghast that this most basic of skills has eluded me all these years.
I suppose that I can sort of relate to this level of shock. Indeed I find myself filled with similar feelings when someone informs me that they have never seen ‘The Godfather’ or eaten some good slow cooked pork belly. Some of you might find that comparison ridiculous, but for me it makes perfect sense because those are things that to me seem like fundamentals for anyone going through life. Fundamentals may seem about strong of a word but I think that just goes to show that everyone has a different take on life and how it should be lived.
Each and every person leads a different life and it’s when commonalities are found that we find connections to others. And it’s through those connections that we are able to build a fuller and richer existence. It is with that thought in mind that I have now determined to learn the art of the bicycle. Now and then I do find myself thinking that ‘yes, it is a travesty that I can’t ride.’ Especially when I consider the culture of the city in which I have grown up and live. Vancouver is striving to be a green city and is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery to be found. Not to mention the glory that is the Seawall. A wonderful feature of the city that I have never been able to fully enjoy as walking the entire length is a time consuming yet rewarding task. It also makes perfect sense for me to take up cycling as I do not own a car and grow weary of public transport.
Many of you have heard me profess my intent to learn how to ride before so this might seem like a load of hogwash. But with the warmer weather fast approaching I think I am long overdue and I do relish the chance at proving the naysayers wrong. I have gained a dedicated teacher who thinks it silly that I have no riding ability and is determined to see me ride, even providing a loner bicycle. Perhaps one of the strongest points in favor of this teacher is that she actually rides on a regular basis.
Many of the peanut-gallery who have expressed shock in the past over my apparent shocking inability, do absolutely no riding of their own. This fact always strikes me as mildly hypocritical. Being mocked and jeered for never learning a skill that my detractors themselves never use seems unfair. Yes, they may have already gained this skill and I have always been told that one never forgets (it’s like riding a bike) but they never use it. I on the other hand am almost always willing to sit down and re-watch The Godfather and am constantly on the look out for my next chance at a decadent pork belly dinner.
I have no idea how long the learning process will be. It might only be an afternoon or a couple of days or perhaps weeks due to the impending falls and subsequent scraped knees and childlike whimpering – I don’t bounce the same way I used to. But the process starts this week.
It is now one month till my 27th birthday and although I have no doubt it should not take me that long to learn, I have chosen that day (weather depending) to make my debut. And so, loyal readers, I propose to you that on that day you join me for a tour of the aforementioned Seawall. This call goes out especially to those of you who in the past have scoffed at my lack of ability and yet cannot yourselves remember the last time you went for a ride.
Finally I will add that if indeed I am successful and do achieve my goal of a birthday ride – of course to be followed by champagne and balloons – that those of you out there should follow my lead and take the time to enjoy one of those things that somebody has once expressed shock you have not done. And should it be watching The Godfather or any other such essential cinematic work I will gladly join you. I’ll even bring the refreshments and to me that sounds like an offer you can’t refuse.