For Christmas, I asked for and received an adult-size, three-wheeled bike. I figured I had passed the age of being able to ride safely on a two-wheeled bike and was sure this oversized tricycle would be a cinch to handle.
I pictured myself pedaling confidently around the neighborhood, waving at the neighbors, my hair ruffling slightly in the wind, and pounds melting off my midsection at a record rate.
But. . .
I no longer believe those people who tell you if you have ever ridden a bike, you’ll always be able to ride one.
I cannot ride this bike. It is heavier, harder to steer, and much wider than a two-wheeled bike.
We live in a neighborhood with paved, flat streets and little traffic. If I can learn to get on, steer, stop, and get off, I should be good to go. I more than likely won’t need to change gears.
For some reason, once I plant myself on that bike seat, I freeze in fear. I am told that though it isn’t impossible to turn the bike over, it won’t tip over easily, and I don’t need to worry that it will.
I was on the bike at least half a dozen times before I pedaled it any distance at all. I was stiff, and terrified of not being able to stop the bike when I needed to.
Dan says I don’t sit straight in the saddle. I hunch my shoulders and lean markedly to the left and that’s why I always run off the driveway on the left side.
He suggested I practice riding in the cul-de-sac, but I wasn’t ready for neighbors to watch me.
Plus, I could imagine someone driving innocently by in a car and suddenly, like a bat out of a cul-de-sac, a big yellow machine maneuvered by a hunched over, left-leaning, crazy woman careens smack into their passenger side door.
I asked my adult daughter Lara to help me with it. She straddled the bike and was all the way down the driveway and headed toward the house next door before I could even ask her if she thought the seat was too high.
She watched me attempt to ride the bike from the center of the garage to the garage entrance.
Then she said, “Get off, Mom. I think you may have some neurological deficits.” (She is an occupational therapist.)
She set me in a chair and tested me by having me mimic some arm and leg movements she demonstrated. I was able to do each exercise easily.
We went back to the bike, I got on it in the driveway, and positioned a foot on each pedal. I sat.
I told the grandkids to go stand on the front porch.
“Go on, Mom,” she said. “You won’t tip over.”
Before I had ridden three feet she said, “Stop, Mom. Why are you hunching your shoulders and leaning to the left? You’re going to ride off the left edge of the driveway.”
I stopped, and she straightened me upright on the bike. She pushed my shoulders into the right position and told me to go.
I pedaled one or two rounds of the wheels. The peony bush on the left side of the driveway trembled.
Lara said, “Stop, Mom. You’re still hunching your shoulders and sitting on the left edge of your seat. And why are you looking down at the front wheel?”
I stopped. She readjusted my posture and lifted my chin, so I looked straight ahead.
“Try again,” she said.
“No,” I said. “I’ve had enough for one day. I’m going inside to take a nerve pill and lie down.”
This getting old business is the pits. I’ll bet I couldn’t even manage to fall off a log backwards.