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!