Learning to Cycle When You’re Not Five – Lesson 5

Here’s a funny thing. On the scooter it was hard for me to go in circles, whereas straight lines happened with a satisfying whoosh. On the bike I seem to start circling without even doing much, when I’m trying hard to follow an arrow.

I cycle off. My muscles are a bit sore. Getting on and off the bike, not to mention braking, still doesn’t feel as elegant as what I see our instructor doing, but I keep repeating the process and I also put my other foot on the pedal quicker. It’s reassuring that the bike does not tip and I seem to have a feeling for my own balance. At the same time, wobbling does happen at the stage of pushing off, and I stop or literally put my foot down at the right moment.

After a while my instructor approaches me with a bigger bike! “You’re past the small bike, try this one, it’ll be more comfortable”, and it is! I pedal around for ages, also because the soreness in various involved body parts becomes apparent the moment you get off the saddle. But this is definitely the highlight of the session.

Half the football field is taken up by little kids training. While our instructor sits down and just lets us joyfully cycle around as much as and however we want, in contrast one of the football moms is yelling at the children like a drill sergeant. An ambulance suddenly pulls up right along the field and stops near the young athletes. Our instructor jumps up. “What happened? My women, are any of my women hurt?!” No, we assure her, we’re fine (it’s a course for women, by the way), but it seems one of the children got hurt. I hope it wasn’t because of their apoplectic trainer.

“That’s not fair,” says one of the earlobe-grabbing women from lesson 4 furiously as I mount and cycle past her. “How are those who don’t have long legs supposed to do it?” Um, get a smaller bike? Dude, stop judging my limbs.

I cycle and cycle and cycle, even executing a maneuver around a small yellow cone lying on the ground. I speed up a little too close to a bench, but brake just in time. The instructor shouts my name and I cycle back to her, feeling cool that I really do have the option of not walking across the field. After a break I have to practice what we also did with the scooters before – fix your gaze on a point, for example a tree or a lamppost, and cycle towards it, all the while not taking your eyes off it. No looking down at the bike when you get on and no checking the pedals or handlebar while you cycle. This seems to work, though I do end up cycling further away from my chosen staring objects, in a curve.

After I come back from a break, someone took my bike, so I carefully get on another one which turns out to have a wobbly handlebar.  After a while I can’t quite steer and fall despite braking. Lesson learned.

We have half an hour left and I go off for a last round. There’s a light breeze and the kids’ training is done, so we have the grounds to ourselves and I feel the air pat my cheek as I fly by. “Very good!” my instructor shouts, and I laugh. “Well, aren’t you the superstar,” calls the leg-judging lady when I give her a wider berth.

Yep, that’s me.


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