Writing Out Loud: It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

There are some things that we never really forget how to do. Riding a bike is usually thought to be at the top of the list. In fact, it’s become a sort of mantra for anything we are asked to do that we think is too difficult, or something that we may have done once when we were younger but wouldn’t even think about doing now.

The funny thing about that stuff we used to do is that it was not really that difficult back then. Most of the time, we didn’t even think twice about doing it. It was as if we were the original Nike commercial… “Just Do It!”
Now, well, it’s a totally different story. Not only do we think twice about doing it (whatever it is) we take hours, days, weeks planning, analyzing and questioning whether or not we should even attempt doing it. After all of that discussion with ourselves, we finally agree to give it a try. We begin the process all over again, figuring out how and where we will do it. Will we have the time? Will we know where to go to do it? Will we need anyone to come with us? How far are we willing to pursue this?

Another couple of weeks go by and we get the first step out of the way. We answer all of those questions and maybe even a few more. The pros outweigh the cons, so we exhaust all of our resources via the Internet and after intensive research, we go out and buy a bike. The next step, and there is a next step, is deciding if there is any sort of safety gear involved with this endeavor? I know. At our age, safety equipment could be necessary for just moving around the house. But I’m talking real industrial strength gear here. Helmets, pads, gloves, goggles, steel toed shoes and chest armor that would rival any professional baseball league catcher. After we get the gear issue solved, we concentrate on any specialized training or instruction necessary for us to go out and have fun with the piece of equipment we have purchased.

It is similar to what we remember. It has two wheels, a chain, sprockets, handle bars, hand brakes, gear shifters and a really nice cushy seat. We even opt for the super, heavy duty suspension system on the front forks. Similar? Yeah. Exact? No. We note the differences from the first bike we had. That one had high handlebars, known as choppers or ape hangers, foot brakes, no gears, a banana seat with a sissy bar and fenders. That bike was cool! This one is intimidating! It may even have more high tech stuff on it than your car. If we had one of these back then, we’d have thought that we were in a Star Trek episode. Don’t look now, but is that a transporter button next to the gear shift? No. It’s just a screw; don’t know what it’s for though. Probably best not to touch it, just in case.

Here’s where our memory starts to kick in. They say that we have two types of memory sensors in our bodies. We have the ones that are stored in our minds, you know, the ones that are not always on target. We also have memories that are stored in our muscles. These are likely to be more reliable. They are both put to the test as you stand in the garage, staring down the bike you brought home after all of that research convinced you to swipe your debit card at the sporting goods store. You also brought home all of that safety stuff. So, you are standing there, looking like a character from a King Arthur movie. You have your gloves on. Your body is heavily padded. Knees, elbows, shins, chest and buttocks all protected. You have a towel and a bottle of water strapped to your waist on top of your well fitted biker shorts and micro fiber wicking shirt. Your riding shoes are secure, and you approach the bike, facing the vehicle door in the center of your garage. You are ready to slay the dragon!

You put one hand on the hand grip and raise your body over the frame. Perched on your toes and nestled on the seat, you slowly lift the helmet over your head and fasten it down. You tighten the chin strap and push the remote to open the door. You hear your heart beating in your temples as the door comes to a stop. You turn from side to side to make sure your helmet doesn’t rub your neck, you grip the handles tightly and push off with your left foot. You begin peddling. Wobbling, swerving, and almost losing your balance, you coast down the driveway out into the street. As you peddle down the street, much to your surprise, it all comes flashing back to you! Just like riding a bike. As you sail down the street, your confidence builds. The memories flood your mind and you are on that banana seat again! Another memory comes to mind. You used to do this with your arms lifted and stretched out to your sides. (Look ma! No hands!) Then pulling on the hand brake brings you back to reality and that no hands thing will just have to remain a memory….at least for now.


The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Sun.
George Stahl can be reached at stahl_george@yahoo.com

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