There and Back Again: A Journey, or, Killing Bicycle Fear

(or that’s what David titled it anyway…)


I don’t know if I’ve previously mentioned my fear of bikes.  While being able to get around faster than walking, while avoiding reverse parking (the bane of my existence), has always been appealing, I’ve struggled to shake a slight terror of bicycles for a few years now.

I could ride pretty competently as a kid – I’d hurtle around the local bike track, my dad running along behind me for his own exercise.  At about age 10 though, I outgrew my beloved green bike – and we never replaced it.

Fastforward 5 years.  I’m on school camp, and they expect us to ride bikes.  It seems that 5 years have not done good things to my riding skills.  I fall off twice, crash into a bush and, having been provided with guys bicycles with suuuuper uncomfortable seats, fear for my lady parts.  Oddly enough, I don’t enjoy the experience at all.

Fastforward again, this time to about 3 years ago.  We move house, all my housemates have bicycles.  It is time.  I walk down to the local bike shop and then tentatively roll home, after knocking over 3 bikes in store while falling off a mountain bike.  For a few weeks, I carefully ride laps around the footpath at a park near our house.  Small children zoom past me as I occasionally tumble onto the grass or straight into a tree.  Whoever said that you never forget how to ride a bike was a filthy liar.  I shake my fist and curse them – and promptly run into another tree.  For 2 ½ more years, my bike stays parked in the garage.  My eyes widen like a rabbit in the headlights whenever David suggests we bike somewhere.  I insist on walking.

6 months ago, I try again.  I ride 200 metres down the road, fail to brake or turn, crash into a post and land on the road with skinned hands and knees.  THAT’S IT! I shriek.  Later, David discovers my brake pads have gone.  He replaces them, oils the chains and encourages me to try again.

On the weekend, I did.  I rode to the climbing gym and back.  I didn’t fall off at all!  I then rode to the pub and home again – and didn’t fall off at all!  Guys, this is amazing.  This whole bike thing is AMAZING.

Honestly, I’m so excited.  By riding more places, I can save time, money, the environment.  I can be less dependent on fossil fuels.  I can avoid having to find parking spaces.  I can go on social rides with friends.  The possibilities suddenly seem endless!  I’ve been reading about how awesome cycling is for ages, on sites like Grist.  Now I’m just starting to discover how right they are.

The main thing to get from this post though?  If I can use my bike to get around, anyone can.  Seriously.  Shout at that little voice telling you that you can’t – and do it!


4 thoughts on “There and Back Again: A Journey, or, Killing Bicycle Fear

  1. I’m sooooo sorry, but I laughed out loud when I read “I shake my fist and curse them – and promptly run into another tree” !

    Great post! I’m very glad that you have “seen the (bright LED) light” of cycling.

    And when in doubt, remember Newton’s First Law: (paraphrased) an object in motion wants to remain in motion. In other words, a wheel spinning in an upright position wants to remain upright. So speed helps you stay up : )

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