Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My 32nd Year Begins

So here it is at the end of my birthday and already I feel like a different person. Older, yes. Tired, yes. Frightened, ok. But invigorated too. The outpouring of support I have encountered since launching this project has been tremendous. And to all of you who have shared your thoughts, personal stories of struggle and fears of bicycles... thank you for putting your trust and your faith in me.

Ok, enough sappy stuff. Lets talk bikes.

I think that I mentioned before that I am not into bike riding. Not that I'm against it. Its just I haven't exactly had the most positive experience balancing my whole body on two wheels. Why is it that they don't make bikes with training wheels for adults? Because adults are too embarrassed to admit they don't know how to ride? I can't possibly be the only one out there...

So where do you go when you're turning 32 and you still can't ride a bike? You go to my friend Jason. To say he likes bikes is an understatement. He channels bikes in everything he does. Every Facebook post he makes. And certainly, when the Tour de France season comes around, you better watch out because the man is a living spokesperson for the race. Anyone local to the DC area knows exactly who I am talking about. When I approached him with my year long project, he sighed, took one look at me and said, "Ok Jen, I guess I will teach you how to ride a bike!" Wahoo!

So here we are in September with project one: Learning to Ride a Bike

Me being me, I did a little bit of research before my first lesson cause that's what I know how to do: research. Anytime I am preparing for something I know little to nothing about, I try to do a little bit of background research. I guess it makes me feel more in control of situations that make me anxious. Who knew I would find a treasure trove of information with instructions and how-to videos on the Web. Here is one Wiki site that I found with a basic step by step: http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-Bicycle. After reviewing this material, I started to mentally prepare for the big day.

Today was the first day since I was in elementary school that I sat on a non-stationary bicycle. No training wheels and no pedals (we will get to that in a minute) and certainly no pretty basket with flowers. This was a big, adult size bike with two wheels bigger than me. Day one's lesson started with seat and height adjustments to the bike and the addition of the wheels. See, I told you this guy was a serious biker. Next, I learned how to balance myself on said bike without falling over. In fact, we had the lesson indoors on a carpeted hallway to start me off on the right foot. The pedal-less concept is Jason's. He takes the pedals off the bike so you can just focus on balancing without attempting to "ride." I would say it was a scary, yet exhilarating feeling walking myself down the hallway on my two wheeled mobile. I do think the seats could be a whole lot more comfortable though. Who would design a seat so small which you can barely sit on? If I were spending hours riding a bike, I would want the Lazy Boy version of a bike seat. I don't need a recline function but some padding and pillow top would be a nice addition.

Nevertheless, I am happy to say that I survived my first bike lesson unscathed and even a bit empowered. Perhaps I am not to old after all to learn new tricks. I did realize though that one doesn't simply sit on a bike and ride. I sure have a long way to go before cruising down Sligo Creek on my new set of wheels but I am proud to have taken the first step. Stay tuned for photos from my first lesson and look out for a thirty something on wheels coming soon to a park near you.


  1. i think your project is fantastic!
    i cant wait to hear more about your biking and other adventures....

  2. Jen -

    Thank you for sharing this! I think its really interesting how similar learning to ride a bike is to conquering fear. When one chooses to face their fears, they must charge into it with intentional forward motion. Sure it's scary, but one must forge ahead without hesitation and without looking back. If one is reticent to engage, or worried about moving into something new, they will fall over.

    I remember when I learned to ride a bike as a child, and when I had that moment of "aha! this is how one rides a bike"; I was nervous about pushing forward; I wanted to go slow, and I kept falling over. After a few scrapes and asphalt hugs, I realized I just had to push the pedals, not be afraid of a little speed, and of something new, and not be scared, and all of sudden, I was riding for the first time, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.

    It might take a few attempts, and knees will get banged up, and you might leave a little skin on the street, but once you get past that, and feel ok about pushing through your fears, the wheels will roll. Once you get to the place where you realize that you can't be worried about how to stop before you have the courage to start, you will find your way.

    Your cousin (in law, and in heart)

    ~ Jeremy

  3. Jen! Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading... I found these entries really moving and look forward to following your adventures!


  4. This is such a great idea! And for a fellow 32-year-old mom, very inspiring.

    Don't feel too bad about learning to ride a bike as an adult...my mom, who's nearly 60, still doesn't know how. She tried to teach me the "theory" of balancing based on an article she read, which of course failed miserably. It wasn't until I was 11 that I finally conquered it -- my dad, an experienced bike rider, took me to a grassy hill, I rode down a few times, and then I had it! Now I'm an avid bike rider...I even got a child bike seat so my son can ride shotgun. Perhaps we'll see you on the Sligo Creek trail someday. Good luck!