Learning to ride a bike at 40!On Thu, 15 June, 2017 - 12:24
Written by Momtaz
Nearly everyone assumes that I would know how to ride a bike. I probably would, if I had grown up with bikes, but I have never had one - although I must admit as I child I did want a bike and I did want to learn how to ride one. However, as an adult it has never been an essential and I have been perfectly happy to walk whenever I can. Even after I got my first car at 30, I would still try and walk to stay fit.
However, living at Taraloka, I have felt quite limited by being unable to ride a bike. You can’t walk to many places within a short time and it felt a shame that I had to mostly drive, especially being surrounded by beautiful countryside. In the summer, we usually go wild swimming at Hanmer mere which is 3 miles away by road from Taraloka. Often the others would cycle there and I would have to take the car – although it did mean I could take bags for people.
I decided to learn to ride a bike for BAM so that I could participate in more group activities and hopefully, occasionally take the bike out rather than the car. However, I was worried about not being able to balance on the bike without stabilizers. I had tried balancing on a bike before and was unsuccessful. My aim for June is at least to be able to ride up and down Taraloka’s track.
I have written a mini diary of my learning to ride a bike:
Maitrisiddhi has kindly lent me one of her bikes and Sarah has lent me her helmet. I wanted to learn on the grass as I was scared about falling on concrete (I saw one of our volunteers fall off and gash their leg badly whilst learning to ride a bike). On the first day Maitridevi offered to help me get started. We took the bike out of the bike-shed on to the lawn at the back of the house and I tried to get on it.
I could barely touch the ground with my toes! The minute I took my toes off the ground, I would lean one way or another and couldn’t see a way to balance or peddle. We couldn’t get the seat any further down either. Maitridevi tried to hold the bike up whilst I aimed to get both of my feet on the peddle, but I still kept leaning off the bike. It didn’t help that the lawn is lumpy and uneven (thanks to the colony of moles!).
Then Maitrisiddhi came to help and persuaded me to practice in the concrete car park where the surface was flat and even. She also suggested trying ‘scooting’ as a means to learn how to balance on the bike. She first demonstrated and then I had a go. We are both the same height so I couldn’t work out why I was struggling with getting my feet on and off the ground whilst she scooted with ease!
After a few uncomfortable attempts, I finally went from ‘nay’ to ‘yeah’! I was able to keep my feet off the ground a few seconds at a time.
The next day, I decided to try scooting again and this time Catherine came to support me.
She didn’t know what I meant by scooting and so I tried to show her. You stay upright by where the peddles are, keeping one foot on the peddle. With the other foot you push against the ground to propel forwards, lifting the foot off the ground, and keeping it off the ground for as long as possible.
After a couple of initial attempts of keeping both feet off the ground for more than a second or two, I was able to scoot down the whole car park without my feet touching the ground, yet I still hadn’t worked out how to get my bum on the seat and cycle.
I thought I would have one more attempt at scooting and as I started, suddenly my pelvis lifted and popped onto the seat and I peddled. As if by magic, my body knew what to do!
I was on my own and decided to see if yesterday was a fluke or could I actually ride a bike? I was able to balance almost immediately and rode round the car park a few times before cycling up and down Taraloka’s track. It seemed as though the forward motion helps you to stay balanced. However, before I put the bike away, I decided to really test my new skill by going back to the original lumpy, uneven lawn to see if I could ride the bike. And, yes I could, although it was a lot more difficult to cycle in a straight line! I still have to practice turning round and braking smoothly (I almost crashed into one of the cats!) but I hope that, eventually, I will be able to ride on the road or the canal banks!
I want to say a big thank you to everyone that helped me to ride a bike.