I was the last in my family to learn to ride a bike.
It makes sense that I was the last person in my family to learn how to ride a bike, because I’m the youngest person in my family … but the age at which I mastered a two-wheeler was a good two years beyond my two older sisters.
We have home videos of my middle sister, Wendy, barreling around the yard on her pink Schwinn at four years old, balanced on the edge of the banana seat so she could reach the chopper-style handlebars—fearless. I’m not sure exactly what year my oldest sister, Lori, took off the training wheels, but I’m pretty sure it was at the expected five or six years.
Me, I refused to let me dad take them off until the summer of 1987, four months shy of my eighth birthday.
I took one shaky ride down to Rustic Hills (a nearby, and fairly un-rustic, subdivision) with my mom, and then the bike went back in the garage for the rest of the summer. The following summer, when it came time to get back on the bike, I was skeptical. The saying goes, “It’s like learning to ride a bike—you never forget how,” but I was pretty sure I’d forgotten—eight years old and still whining to my mom to stay close in case I fall. Sheesh.
You might try to chalk up the difference between my sisters and me to different equipment or a more challenging riding environment. Nope, I learned how to ride on the very same bike as Lori and on the very same driveway as Wendy.
The simple fact is—and my sisters won’t hesitate to confirm this—I was a fraidy cat kid.
These days, I ride my bike confidently (for the most part) through the city, navigating traffic and obstacles. Friends and family ask if I’m not scared to ride next to fast-moving cars, and I’m a little surprised myself when I can tell them, “No, I’m not.”
I’ve got my helmet on, my wits about me, and my eyes on the road. Twenty-five years of cycling later, I’m not a fraidy cat anymore.