Day 19: Finally learning how to bike in your 20’s is BTS

I have a confession to make: Until two months ago, I did not know how to ride a bike. Going through a terrible childhood is no joke, let me tell you. Picture me at age four, a jumper-clad puppy gazing forlornly out the window as my carefree, mud-caked kid neighbors rode around in their bikes. The sight of their happy bottoms cushioned by the hard, protruding bike seats haunts me to this day. I was an only child and my mom had forbidden me from getting on a bike thinking I’d run myself into traffic. Looking back now, the last few years may have been nothing more than an ambivalent rebellion against maternal authority: I’ve ridden means of transport of various shapes and sizes but, on the off-chance that she might actually be right about the running-into-traffic part, I prudently avoided mounting anything with wheels.

On the random occasion that I tried maneuvering something with wheels, I made sure I was with a professional. Last summer, I set my sights on speed racing and somehow found myself on a weekend date with a corporate exec type who’s a racing instructor on the weekends. Since we had to get to the NASCAR racetrack at the Poconos at 7 AM, I had to be up at 3AM and haul my sleep-deprived self downtown to Battery Park before sunrise. Anyone who’s been to these things would tell you that a racing event is not much different from the Folsom Street Fair: their adherents have a fervor beyond irony and an authentic sense of identification with their hobby that allows them to sniff out impostors. I had to do something. By Sunday afternoon, not only did I get to ride a sports car running at 220 mph, I had become my date’s junior colleague at the bank he works for, gotten recently engaged to Sally May (a sophomore medical student at Columbia) whom I met at a baseball game in Chicago a few years back. The closet is bursting with such rich, colorful details, especially when one imparts them in a voice an octave or two lower than his normal register, no?

This past April, however, I’m afraid my transgression finally became absolute and unequivocal. My hot German biker friend, who shall be referred to as “Lehrer”, offered to teach me how to ride a bike. Before our first lesson on an unusually sunny Saturday morning, I saw that he had done his homework and printed out an online article on “Teaching Kids How To Ride A Bike”, ensuring a meticulously planned training program. He got me started by learning to maintain my balance while on a bike moving down a slope, which I mastered in an hour and a half tops. After that, I did the same while pedaling and maneuvering the steer and, after nailing that down as well, I moved on to biking on flat surfaces, adjusting the gears and going up inclined surfaces. The only problem in the first few sessions was that I’d get extremely self-conscious and stiffen when there are people around in the park but my Lehrer put up with it so graciously. To no one’s surprise, five Saturdays later, I became a “hot biker dude” myself, all thanks to Lehrer.

When I decided to go for a hundred days without sex, my note to self was that the experience shouldn’t simply be a passive, banal one. I have to say I couldn’t resist romaticizing this sabbatical a bit. Maybe I’ll pick up a life-changing nugget or two about sex and dating at the end of it. Maybe by leaving my comfort zone and trying out new things, I’ll get to know and appreciate myself better. Maybe, sometime during the one hundred days, I’ll fall in love. There’s nothing extraordinary about how I learned how to bike but somehow those Saturday mornings riding around in the park and avoiding puddles makes me feel like that four-year-old again, looking expectantly out my window: he and I think that, despite being told that you’re out of your mind, when you set your heart on something and go for it, something’s bound to happen eventually, whether in love or biking.

Since I don’t know what’s in store for me at summer’s end, I thought I’d send the universe some feelers by pulling off a crazy antic: Bike thirty miles in support of something that helps other people. I just signed up to join the New York City Bike Tour of the National Multiple Scleroris Society sometime in the next few months. While I almost had a panic attack after signing up – the hypochondriac in me recalling vividly the article that said that my psycho-motor coordination will suffer because I’m not having sex – I’m sure the support of my friends will help me pull through. At any rate, I’m sure my fiancée Sally May will be very proud.


One Response to “Day 19: Finally learning how to bike in your 20’s is BTS”

  1. awesomeness!!!

    welcome to the team, biker dude! we’re pleased to have u ride with us for a very good cause as well =)

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