This is a city that actually publishes a pedestrian / bike path map .
People are serious about biking here. Many people commute to work on bike here. More people that I can conceive of bike for fun on a daily basis. It should be a dream for someone like me who doesn't like driving cars. One of the main reasons I moved to NYC (and one of the things I am missing the most) is the NYC subway system. Boulder is completely unique in the measures it has taken to make non-car transportation possible. It is a Green-Anti-Driving Girl's Dream.
Except for one thing.
I can't ride a bike. REPHRASE! I couldn't ride a bike until about 3 weeks ago when I visited Gretchen on my vacation prior to moving to Boulder.
Hello, my name is Jessica I'm 31 and I'm afraid to ride a bike. Unfortunately, there is no "Can't Ride Bikes Anonymous." If there was I would have joined it. Instead, I kept my fear of two- wheeling one of my dirty little secrets. I felt like the only person in the world to which the phrase, "It's just like riding a bicycle." actually brought up feelings of inadequacy. Until on a cool spring day in Maryland, my Cocktail Mom Gretchen helped me get over my fears and I rode a bike for the first time in my life. I was miraculously able to do it again the next day with her help and some additional coaching from her father. I thought my life was changed forever. That I could check something off my list of life goals. Until....
Yesterday, I tried to ride again to get a little practice in on the two-wheeled machine. My boyfriend has a very good friend who loves bicycling. She does 50+ mile rides. She and I went to a local bike consignment shop in hopes of finding me a used bike that I could start peddling all over Boulder on ASAP. We didn't find a bike. Once we got back to the house she encouraged me to ride here bike around a bit. Scared but needing some practice I agreed.
When I got on something didn't feel right. The seat was up too high. I was on gravel not pavement. It wasn't a good idea. I knew it.
In order to learn to ride the bike Gretchen and her father had instructed me to lower the bike seat all the way down so I was able to put my feet down if I needed to. This was vital to my learning to ride the bike. I finally felt safe up on the seat. At any time I could put my feet down and stop (provided I wasn't speeding along too fast). Anyway, on her bike I couldn't touch the ground. Not even on my tip toes. She told me that that is how it was really supposed to be and that I couldn't ride with my feet touching forever. I shouldn't have tried it. But I wanted to prove to myself that the rides a few weeks ago had not been flukes. I barely rode for a few feet. Then crashed. I fell off the bike and bloodied the very knee that still bares a scar from the day my parents took off my training wheels. It really sucked.
Here I am, in the one of the few cities in American where you really can bike everywhere, and I can't ride a bike. I knew I needed some more confidence. I knew I was still scared of being in traffic or being passed by another cyclist but I thought I was at least able to ride. It was a sad moment but my ego was was hurt more than my knee.
And so today - I got back on the bicycle. My boyfriend took me up to the campus of the University of Colorado and with the seat lowered to a point where just my tip toes touched I was able to ride again. I'm still not ready for the busy bike paths of Boulder Creek but perhaps soon I'll at least be able to enjoy a quick trip to corner store on my bike.
Here are my tips for learning to ride a bike:
- Have someone patience and positive with you
- Lower the seat on the bike so that your feet can touch
- When you start to fall turn the handle bars into the fall ...not way from the fall
- Take it at your own pace especially if you're an adult. Everyone thinks it is so easy that they forget that it can be scary and that you are just learning