Becoming a mom motivated me to learn to ride a bike

Guest post by Liset Mendoza
Liset on her bike!
Liset on her bike!

I wouldn’t say bike riding was a phobia, but I was 22 and I didn’t know how to ride. There was definitely a psychological part to it: sadness that my father yelled at me when he was teaching me, resentment that my mom was too busy to teach me, and so on. But mostly, I was just embarrassed. When you’re five, you’re fearless! When you’re 22, not so much.

Then came the visions of my husband, me, and my baby Penny lovingly riding through a meadow with deers and butterflies and other beautiful bike-filled nature. So, I mentioned it a few times, “Ah, I’d like to learn sometime, it would be nice.” And for a while it just kinda hung out there — this perfect family activity that I could not participate in.

Then my husband got a free bike — a really expensive, fancy, free bike, and he wanted to ride it badly. So right before he got the last pieces for his fancy, free bike, we found ourselves out shopping and my husband said, “I’m buying you a bike for your birthday. Which one do you like?” Sudden, instant, ice cold fear.

It was all happening so fast — we were standing in front of the bikes, and he was pulling them off the rack and asking me which color I liked. Then he was wheeling the bike to the cashier with my face in a nervous smile, and my pits sweating through my shirt! I’m a money freak. I can’t spend a dollar without agonizing if it really needed to be spent. This bike was more than a dollar, so I HAD to ride it! I couldn’t return it without at least trying — that would hurt my husband’s feelings. So I bit the inside of my cheeks as he drove us to an empty parking lot.

Just sitting on it was too embarrassing for me. I could feel my cheeks blushing, and I started messing up my words and laughing in a creepy way. Luckily, it was decided that my seat needed to be lowered, so I told my husband to take our daughter and walk to the gas station across the street to buy a wrench.

This left me alone in a parking lot with a bike. I could push one pedal, but two feet off the ground at the same time? You’re nuts! But I knew I only had so much time before he came back. I was already dying of embarrassment.

The following internal dialogue went like this:

What are you scared of? Falling? Come on! You’ve gone through labor for god’s sake! You can fall off a stupid bike and scratch your knee. Don’t be a pussy! You’re going too fast? You’re afraid to turn? Is that how you want to raise Penny? Do you want her to be afraid? No! NO!

So, I did it. Alone in a parking lot (except for this one jogger who smiled at my efforts) I forced myself to get over one of my biggest irrational fears and I learned how to ride a bike! And you know what? I LOVE IT!

Comments on Becoming a mom motivated me to learn to ride a bike

  1. Oh, I’m not alone! I’m 32 and am having my baby in September. I guess it’ll be next spring when it’ll be time to suck it up and learn to ride a bike… My husband has agreed to teach me and has also agreed to learn to swim (which I have done with ease since infancy, but scares him as much as bikes scare me.

  2. This is how I feel about driving! I have a license, but have avoided driving for over 10 years because of reasons along the lines of why you avoided learning to ride a bike. I associate driving with my mom crying and asking me to just let her drive, or my dad yelling or not having time to teach me. My goal is to feel confident driving before I need to install a carseat for my (future) child. Thank you for sharing this inspiration that we can get over these fears.

    • My partner says I have to learn how to drive before we start trying to get pregnant. I’m 28 and have never gotten my license! (And I have similar associations, down to Mom asking just to let her drive…)

      Also, I live in Australia even though my previous attempts learning to drive were in the US. This’ll be fun!

      • Eep! I don’t have my license either, or a working car. It’s so ridiculous how HARD it is to be stranded at home with a baby! Need diapers? Too bad! Starving and need food, fuck you! ugh! I never got the blues, but not having the freedom to go places definitely brought me down.

        Even being pregnant and having to walk everywhere was incredibly hard. I’m the anti-thesis to athletic, so walking up a hill everyday to catch the bus to school made me barf. Every single day. On the overpass. In front of strangers. It sucked.

  3. I love this! Gave me shivers in a good kind of way. I’m currently in swimming lessons, proving to my 4 year old daughter who is showing signs of my (and my mothers, funny how it’s passed down) irrational fears, and they’re not just of water. My daughter is 4, and it still amazes me the things I push myself to do to better myself for her… Left an unhappy (for many reasons) marriage, came out, went back to college, enrolled in swimming lessons….

  4. I learned how to ride a bike at 18, having avoided it for so long for very similar reasons (I also have the same problem with driving, but my wonderful beau is teaching me). This post makes me smile and I just wanted to offer positive encouragement: you can do it!

  5. I’m 31. My husband has been teaching me to ride a bike the past 3-4 years, and though I’m better now, I’m still terrified to ride on the streets or anywhere that people can see me. But I’m pregnant, and have the same goals as you! I don’t want to raise a scared child OR one who is dependent on a car to get around. Thanks so much for sharing! BTW, where is that photo taken? It looks just like the bike trail that runs near the river here in Lawrence, KS.

  6. My mama and I learned how to ride a bike together!!!

    I was 6 and she was 34 or so. I remember it as beautiful family moment and ever since then we went on lots of bike rides during the summer.

    It may sound like a topic but it’s really never too late to learn.

  7. I know how to ride my bike but I never learned now to rollerblade. I sort-of learned a couple years ago at an indoor skate park with some friends but I’m still not ready to try the streets. It was intimidating to see seven year olds whipping around the ring when I was trying to talk myself into letting go of the sides, but eventually (once Adult Time kicked in and the kids had to leave) I managed to get going under my own steam!

  8. I’m sweating just reading this post. You’re not alone. I’m 28 and I’ve never learned to ride. I always tell people it’s because I’m an “inside” kind of girl but really it’s because I’m scared. My husband keeps saying how much fun it’s going to be to teach me so we can all go riding together. I’m too embarrased to tell him I’m scared and he’s too kind to ask flat out why I never learned. You are inspiring!

    • Thank you! I’m so happy I learned! It’s definitely my favorite family activity! My advice would be to learn when no one is looking, it really helped to know that no one could see me! O_O

  9. I can only sort of ride a bike… I learned how to on a bike where pressing back on the pedals made you stop, not go backward, so mastering anything beyond that terrifies me. One day, though….

    • Ah. Maybe get a bike that has pedal brake thingies? I know very little about bikes… When I get scared my instinct is to just stop pedaling and put my feet on the ground. It’s effective in stopping and making me almost fall… ^-^

  10. I thought I was the only one! I’m 48 and though I did ride a bike as a child, I haven’t been on one since I was about 13 and I.a.terrified. But I want to so badly! I’ve been thinking about it for years. I check out bikes all the time and, now that my city is finally bike-friendly, add guilt for driving my car to work on top of everything else.

    1. Desire… check
    2. Past ability… check
    3. Bike-friendly city… check

    But I don’t have a bike, or a teacher, or the funds. I can very much relate to your money dilemma. I also cannot fathom buying something so expensive on a “what if”. My last excuse: bad knees, really bad.

    Still, this post was a wonderful hug in that I now don’t feel like such a wussy freak.

  11. OMG, thank you for sharing this. I came home today and my husband surprised me with a bike! I am 44 and have not ridden a bike since I was 15. I’m so scared, but reading your story has really inspired me to give it a whirl. Its a gorgeous bike and my husband’s feeling will get hurt if I don’t ride it. I have 8 and 10 year old boys who are dying to see me ride it. I just got it today, but as soon as everyone goes to sleep, and no one is in sight, I will go out there and see how I do. I can tell you that I felt awkward just testing the seat. I am so scared, but I am so happy I found your story. I hope that once I get on it, I won’t want to get off!

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