I am not an experienced biker. Actually, I pretty much suck at bicycling.
Sometimes I do not know where to put my feet when I stop. It is not unusual for me to loose balance when I stop at crossings. I get nervous to decide when it is my turn to go. Chain marks on my legs can happen. Therefore, I always ride with black pants. Better safe than sorry!
Sometimes I cannot get the hang of when and how to shift into my most efficient gear. Even though I have a 24-speed mountain bike, I probably use only four speed combinations. I usually only use the rear cogs and the middle front chain ring.
Sometimes I change gears the wrong way thinking that I am putting a light gear when it is actually a heavy one. Or vice-versa.
Sometimes I stop at complicated crossings and continue by foot, like a normal pedestrian, until I reach a decent bike lane.
Sometimes I get scared with cars running near me and stop to regain my confidence.
Nevertheless, even with all the mistakes I make I decided to start going to work with my bike. Practice makes perfect, right? I do not ride every day (yet) but I bike to work at least two times per week.
On the first day I was scared I would not be able to go up a very sloped walkway ramp without hitting somebody or loosing balance. It is a shared walkway with pedestrians and bikers. In the end, I could do it without problems. I didn’t bumped into anyone. It was scary, my legs were wobbly when I reached the top, but I did it.
The second day I got all confused when stopping at a complex crossing. I stayed there, observing the red lights, thinking what was the best moment for me to cross it. I am slow to get moving after I stop. I have to check the right position of my feet on the pedals, check my balance and concentrate on not hitting a car. Or a person. I may have spent 5 minutes processing my surroundings before I set off. But I did it.
The third day I almost feel off my bike when stopping to avoid hitting some pedestrians near a crossing. My bike fell to the side, almost hitting the pavement, but I managed to get it under control. Drivers were looking at me while I was stupidly struggling with my human-powered vehicle. But I went on trying to avoid the looks of startled drivers.
In all these awkward situations, I felt embarrassed. I thought that the entire world was looking and laughing at my lack of expertise. But after the first initial feeling of shame I repeated to myself: “It’s okay, I can do it!” And I continued with my ride like nothing have happened.
Because, in reality, nobody cares. Everybody is busy taking care of his or her lives. Nobody cares if I step out of my bike and continue on foot because I am scared at a crossing. Nobody cares if I go on foot on a sloped walkway. Nobody cares if I lose my balance occasionally. The feeling of being judged by my inability is all inside my head.
Therefore, I learned to just keep going. I learned that I have a lot to learn and only practice can teach me. I learned that I am allowed to make mistakes, to fall, and then come up again.
Riding my bike to work, as mundane as it may seem, is the most amazing experience I have ever had in years. I feel strong, vulnerable and happy.
It makes me feel…Alive!
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