I Forgot How To Ride A Bike

18 Mar

You know the old cliché, “It’s just like riding a bike – you never forget.”  Well, I forgot.

When I was eight years old I learned how to ride a bicycle. I was only allowed to ride around the block with my friend who lived up the street, because my parents felt no one within a one-block radius would kidnap me. Um…?

About 6 months later, my friend moved away.  With no one else on my block to ride with, I abandoned my daily rides.

{Fast-forward 13 years}

I was now 21 years old traveling around France with my friend, Selene, when a good-looking guy advertising Mike’s Bike Tours of Paris approached us.

Selene jumped at the opportunity, but I was a little hesitant.  The last bike I rode was child-sized. These bikes were nearly as tall as I was and were sadly tassel-less.  Also, they did not provide helmets, because this is Paris and that would not be chic.

I told Selene that I had forgotten how to ride a bike.  After doubling over in laugher, she said that was impossible and assured me that riding a bike is something you never forget, muttering something about muscle memory.

I was still apprehensive. Selene suggested that we do a practice run while the Guide assembled the remaining group members.

crashed_bicycle_and_lady-dI wobbled terribly and began to suspect the bike had a mind of it’s own and was using said mind to mess with me.

As I headed directly toward the sidewalk Selene screamed “Turn! Turn the bike! Turn now!”

{Jerk handlebar at the last minute sending me speeding in the direction of the opposite sidewalk. Hit sidewalk. Bike falls right; I fly off to the left. The Guide blows the whistle signaling the beginning of the tour.}

Selene: {Gives me a pitiful look} “Well…that’ll have to do.  Just stay to the rear and you should be fine.”

Me: “But… you’ll stay back with me, right? Selene?” {Gulp}

Selene did stay by my side all the while calling out un-helpful instructions, such as “Go straight!” and “Stop falling against the parked cars!”

Then the sadistic Guide took us off the side streets and to the main road.  This is where I learned that there is no greater example of douchbagery in the world than a Parisian taxi driver encountering a woman who has forgotten how to ride a bike.

I could not tell you what we saw on our tour of Paris, because my attention was focused on the area 2 feet directly in front of my wheel.

I was beginning to hyperventilate. In order to calm myself, I decided to start singing in manner of Meg Ryan in the movie French Kiss.  Only instead of singing “I love Paris in the springtime…” I began cheerily singing:

“I’m going to die!photo 2
I’m going to diiiiiiiiiiie.
Will I die by taxicab?
Will I die by fall?
I do not yet know.
I’ m going to die.
I’m going to diiiiee!

[Do not judge my lyrics unless you can do better while cycling toward what you believe to be your imminent death. <squint>]

The rider ahead turned to look at me {helloooo}, but I continued singing my gloomy tune with a smile on my face.  Because… screw you, bicycle!

The tour stopped off by the river where we were told to get off our death-machines and onto the boat before us.  I thought the Guide must’ve realized that the bicycles were incredibly unsafe and taxi drivers in the area are insane, therefore the tour would conclude on the boat. {sigh of relief}

Once on the boat, we were supplied with copious amounts of champagne as we were safely guided through a waterway tour of Paris at night.  I drank, laughed, danced, and drank some more.  Now this was the Paris I had envisioned!

Then we looped back around and were told to get back on our bikes.  {Fear sweat trickles down my backside}

After drinking a bottle of champagne?

At night?

With Parisian taxi drivers still on the road?

I cannot tell you how I made it back alive.  I have only my Guardian Angel (and many, many parked cars to cushion my fall) to thank for this miracle.

The point being that you CAN forget how to ride a bike and I am barely living proof!


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