The two things – growing up in the financial capital of India and learning to ride a bike did not mix well. I didn’t own a bike because of the impractically of storage, and it was hazardous to ride the bike home from bike rental shop due to the maddening city traffic. My husband on the other hand had tried his hand (or rather legs) at all possible vehicles, and he kept urging me to learn to ride a bike stating various health benefits as that was sure going to lure me. But we kept moving from place to place, and my battle to accumulate as little belongings as possible, swept aside my husband’s bike riding dreams.
Once we bought our house and my kids reached bike riding age, they started appealing me to learn to ride. I had seen how easy it was for my kids (little did I know), and armed with a false sense of security, I went bike shopping. At the shop, I beseeched about full size bikes with training wheels, and after rudely laughing for a lengthy period of time (I took that as a no), the sales rep showed me the beauties that were exhibited throughout the shop. Disappointed, angry, and intimidated I returned home, and left the shopping to my husband.
A shiny new bike was purchased, and everyone in the family looked expectantly at me. They were envisaging that I would just hop on that skinny thing, and get going. I disclosed my plans for Vahan Pooja, and postponed the ordeal to next day. Next morning, everyone was up bright and early (a very rare phenomenon) for my bike lessons and we headed to the nearest park. After a pep rally by my kids, and a suppressed snort from my husband, I embarked upon the adventure. After multiple falls, cuts and bruises and numerous trips to the park, I finally learned how to ride. My kids instructed me to practice every day and started nagging me about it. How they reminded me of my self pestering and coaxing them to practice their music instruments.
On one beautiful but unfortunate summer evening, instead of lazing around in the backyard with an ice-cold beverage, I decided to polish my skill in our quiet neighborhood. I had hardly gone couple of blocks, when I noticed a car heading my way, lost my balance, skinned my knees, and a good part of my left leg. After this debacle, my bike was shoved in the garage, and it managed to receive only hateful glances from me.
This year however, construction started in my neighborhood for a long-awaited bike trail joining two nearby parks. All we will have to do is roll out of the house and we will land on the trail. As the construction geared up, my husband opened up the banned bike discussion. My kids started dreaming about five some mile bike rides, followed by picnics at the lake; they even reminded me that all the riding will help my weight loss efforts. Finally I gave in and renewed my cycling efforts. I had enough experience this time. I refused to ride in shorts and tank tops; I also bought knee guards, elbow guards and bike gloves.
On a sweltering summer evening if you see someone perched precariously on a bike, donning thick jeans and long-sleeved top complete with protective gear; flanked by two boys clearing the way and issuing such warnings as ‘a small stone twenty feet ahead, a car two miles away, a doggie heading our way’, you have spotted truly yours. Do stop and wave, but don’t expect a wave in return as I would be gripping the bike handles in fear, and struggling to carry through my treacherous excursion.