Mamma Po's request to write about my bicycling couldn't have come at a better time.
You see you nearly got a post about how I am coming off my anti-depressants and am swinging between extreme anxiety and normalcy, all a bit dull really, not that I can guarantee that this will be any the more interesting.
You see I didn't learn to ride a bike as I child; I never cycled down the street yelling 'look no hands' (although metaphorically speaking I may have done that a few times in life); I never really got the 'it's as easy as riding a bike thing'.
10 years ago I bought a mountain bike and paid a man to come out and teach me to ride it. He did, within an hour I could, somewhat shakily, ride a bike. My then boyfriend spent many an evening running alongside ready to catch me - ah that must have been love. You see the thing about learning to ride a bike as an adult is that you are fully aware of how much it will hurt if you fall off.
For the next few years we did go on the odd bike ride, but we always put the bikes on the car to get somewhere to ride, say Richmond park for example, we would ride a fair bit when we got there, so much that at a dinner party on an evening following a bike ride my bottom hurt so much I had to have a beanbag on my chair before I could sit down.
But, I never really felt I could confidently say that I can ride a bike. To me riding a bike is when you can hop on it to pop to the shops and return with your shopping merrily swinging off the handle bars.
For the last six years my bike lolled about in shed, simply serving to get in the way of the lawn mower, and with each year that past my confidence in riding shrank to pygmy proportions.
This year, I'm not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with an image of freedom, I once again decided I really, really wanted to be able to ride a bike. I want to be able to cycle to yoga, ride to the park with my daughter on the back, I just want to ride with the wind in my hair and feel free.
My mountain bike didn't fit the picture and with that aid of the City of London, a sale in the bike shop and the sale of my bike on eBay I bought the beautiful Pashley you saw on the previous post. This bike is much more me.
But, the first time I rode it I fell off. I already knew I couldn't take my hand off to signal and that I couldn't just hop and go wherever I wanted but this just confirmed to me that I couldn't ride a bike. The graze on my knee to took four week to heel but my pride and my confidence seemed permanently dented.
I tried to ride to my lesson but the knot in my tummy made me zig-zag too much.
The nice man, moved things about to make my bike truly mine. He built my confidence little by little until I could slalom around objects, cycle in ever decreasing circles...
The thing I'm most proud of - I can now release my white knuckle grip from the handle bars and signal where I want to go.
At last I feel like I can ride a bike.
I might even cycle to yoga tomorrow.
(I promise I will practise more before I take Isobel on the back, apparently I need to practise with potatoes first!)