I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was nine years old. Why? Because I was terrified of falling. Each time someone would try to teach me, I would fall and refuse to try again--until my embarrassment of being the only kid my age that couldn't ride got me on the bike again. finally, at nine years old I figured it out--and didn't fall. At our house no one 'owned' a bike. Because there were so many of us we simply had a plethora of sizes, you would choose the one that fit you best and it was yours until you got back home. If you ended up with the yellow sparkly one with the banana seat and white wicker basket--well, show up in the garage earlier next time!
Once I knew how to drive, I don't think I ever rode a bike again.
About four years ago I bought a bike for our oldest daughter and I got the idea to buy one for myself. My first bike!
I got a nice one--a cross-something or other that could do road and mountain trail. The next day I strapped on my helmet (first time I'd ever worn one) and set off. I was home two miles and ten minutes later. My legs and lungs were on fire. I parked the bike, very disappointed that it was so hard. I wanted a nice easy, fast moving exercise. I'd been robbed! Over the next four years I probably put about 25 miles on that bike and most of those trips were with the kids to the church and back.
Last summer I started running with a good friend, Tiffany. Tiffany is amazing and different from any woman I've ever known as an adult. She LIKES exercise! She and her family all swim like freaking dolphins, they run, they bike. But not in the freaky-guru "I only wear Nike t-shirts so you'll know what an athlete I am" kind of way, but in the "I love the satisfaction of having had my body in motion."
Well, I'm a satisfaction freak. I love 'finishing' something. So, with her as my running buddy I got up to 3 miles. When an injury caused her to cut back, I kept going. I went four and five miles! I ran a couple 5K's and came to love the accomplishment at the end of a run.
One thing Tiff and her family do is biking--and I mean BIKING. Last summer she biked around Utah lake--it's 100 miles. Each time she would tell me about these excursions I would think of my bike sitting in the garage. I asked her questions about riding on the side of the highway--had she ever been hit by a Diesel and put in traction for 6 months? In fact, she had not. What if her chain fell off? She FIXED it, all by herself. The woman is amazing. Finally, a couple weeks ago I bit the bullet and rode my bike to a church meeting, three miles away. I'm sure the women there thought I was dying when I arrived--I was sweaty and my face was bright red and I had to excuse myself so that I could catch my breath. I wasn't sure I liked it. I had to ride on the highway and every time a car passed me I would hold my breath, sure it was going to take me out. My hands were sore by the time I got home because I would clench them each time a car came up on me from behind. But I did survive, and therefore I had 'success' and, as I said, I'm a success freak.
Since that night my husband and I have gone on a few bike rides together. It's been a lot of fun to push ourselves and cover so much ground. We're up to about 8 miles, and it only takes about 40 minutes. We live in a beautiful place and love getting out into it. But in the back of my mind has been a niggling fear. What if I fall? I mean, I KNEW I would fall eventually, and at times that thought terrified me to the point of letting Lee ride alone. Remember, I love success, not failure, and falling is a failure I don't want to face. Every time we get on the bikes I think about it, worry about it, and then proceed with extreme caution. I don't WANT to fall. I want to ride.
Last night we went up on the canal road, which overlooks Willard and Willard Bay. It's breathtakingly beautiful, but the road is rutted and has a drop off on one side. I tried not to think about falling, but it was hard not to. Tt was not the road I wanted to fall on (not that there was a road I wanted to fall on, but you get my point). My rear brake is out on my bike--something I manage to forget between each ride. Every hill had my heart pounding as I pictured the back wheel of my bike cartwheeling over the front. We turned back when the sun began to set, with Lee in the lead, and came to a portion of road that was deeply rutted. I decided it would be best to stay up on the ridge between the two ruts. It worked for a little while, until my back wheel fell into one of the ruts, forcing my front wheel to the side. I yanked back on it, tried to correct and instead went down on my left side. I wasn't going very fast, and I didn't fall very far, but I caught myself with my hands. I sat there for a minute, my hip throbbing, my hands burning and then felt the strangest sense of relief.
I'd fallen. But I was okay. The thing I had feared all along was over with.
The fall hadn't destroyed me, it hadn't damaged me beyond repair. I got up, brushed off and got back on my bike so I could catch up with Lee and take advantage of his sympathy. When I got home, I had to clean the rocks out of my hand--OUCH! But I continued to have the thought go through my head "I'm okay."
Not only that, I'm smarter too. On Monday, I'm going to get my rear brake fixed--it's silly for me to ride a bike that's missing half it's stopping ability. I'm also going to get some hand guards, so if I fall again, I won't imbed rocks into my flesh. I've LEARNED something from the experience, and that is a SUCCESS. Bring it on!
And it got me thinking. How often does the fear of falling keep us on the ground? And have you ever 'fallen' only to realize that it wasn't nearly as bad as you thought it would be? AND, if not for those inevitable falls in life, would we ever learn anything at all?
I'd love to hear your stories.