“It’s as easy as riding a bike.” If there’s one expression in the English language I truly detest, it’s this one.
Easy for who exactly? For those who CAN actually ride a bike, that’s who.
I fall into that rare minority of adults who cannot ride a bike and although people say riding a bike is something you never forget, that’s not much good if you never knew how to ride one in the first place.
While I wasn’t a deprived child, I was never bought a bike by my parents. Well, not a proper one anyway – although I do have vague memories of happily pedalling a tricycle.
So while children my age were whizzing up and down on their BMXs or Barbie bikes, complete with basket and bell, I was happy to trail behind on foot (although I spent most of my leisure time with my nose buried in a book).
I recall trying to ride a friend’s bike on a couple of occasions, but was baffled at how you were supposed to balance and was too scared to lift both feet off the ground.
My friend encouraged me to pedal while she held the back of the bike like a parent and I furiously pedalled around the park.
But as soon as I realised she had tricked me by letting go, I fell to earth with a bump.
Had I owned my own bike and continued with this tried and tested method of learning, I might well have become an Olympic cyclist.
As it is, the moment passed and I bypassed the school cycling proficiency stage to enter adulthood bikeless.
It has honestly never bothered me and wasn’t an issue at all – until the day of my first driving lesson when my smarmy driving instructor remarked: “Don’t worry… Driving a car is as easy as riding a bike” then proceeded to look dumbstruck when I told him I couldn’t ride a bike.
Probably why it ended up taking me five goes before passing my driving test.
When I first met Hubby, he was dumbfounded to hear I could neither ride a bike nor swim. He decided to tackle the more pressing issue and teach me to swim.
Our first lesson with him as my tutor took place at West View Leisure Centre, and we got off to cross purposes after Keith left me outside the women’s changing rooms saying: “I’ll meet you in there” as he disappeared into the men’s changing area.
However, after getting into my swimming costume and with new goggles dangling from my neck, I was a bit confused about where I was supposed to go.
“Maybe he said: ‘I’ll meet you out HERE’ I thought to myself as I headed back to the reception area and hung around there in my swimming cossie unable to comprehend why people kept looking at me and snickering.
Well, how was I to know you got to the pool by walking through the shower area?!
Apart from this embarrassing start, our lessons went well and Keith proudly tells everyone he taught me how to swim.
And I can swim, after a fashion… Although I don’t like putting my head in the water and prefer swimming in water shallow enough for me to stand up in.
Buoyed by his success, Hubby has been pestering me for years to let him teach me how to ride a bike.
I have flat out refused. There are some things I believe you are too old to learn. Cycling is something I feel best learned when you are a child and fearless .
Besides, I’ve always had terrible balance, and scabby knees just aren’t a good look when you’re in your 30s.
However, with the Olympics and the Tour de France, cycling seems to have become more popular than ever, and now we are getting some sunny weather, more people seem to be taking to their bikes and going on family rides.
Keith taught our twosome to ride a few years ago and I am now coming under pressure from all three to learn to cycle so I can join them on their jaunts.
“Please Mummy, we want you to come with us” they begged. “I know!” suggested our son helpfully. “Maybe we could get Mummy some stabilisers.”
Who can forget that episode of Friends when Ross finds out Phoebe has never owned a bike and buys her one, only to later have to buy her training wheels...
Keith has tried bribing me by saying we can go for family cycles in the country and end up at a nice rural pub. But I have countered this by saying I could always meet them at the pub and drive there.
I’ve had suggestions such as riding a tandem or buying an adult trike, but I am resolute it just ain’t going to happen.
I’m far too uncoordinated and clumsy and agree 100 per cent with Mark Twain: “Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”