The saying “it is just like riding a bike” is very commonly used to describe a skill that virtually everyone masters and usually at an early age. It also means that once the skill is mastered it is never forgotten. For me, however, this skill was not easy and I still would not consider it mastered. The difficulties I had in learning how to ride a bicycle not only haunted much of my childhood, but carried over into learning how to drive a car. The challenging experience began when I was five years old.
My mom bought me a new bicycle with the intention of teaching me how to ride it, I learned to ride at age ten and at sixteen was reminded of the difficulties when it was time for me to get my driver’s license. My struggle was not due to a lack of coordination or ability, because I have been very active in varying sports beginning with football at the age of four. I excelled at baseball, lacrosse, basketball, roller hockey, and football, but feared the bicycle.
I loved the brand new bicycle Mom bought for me and was anxious to learn to ride. When I actually got on the bike however, I did not feel like I was in control. As a person who needs to feel in control of situations, I was not comfortable. Mom said I would gain control as I became better and learned to balance. I tried to learn and she tried to teach for years. These attempts usually ended in a screaming match between us and never seemed to get me any closer to mastering the art of bike riding. I was embarrassed to be the only person my age who did not know how to ride a bicycle, but the fear of injury and lack of control always won out over the embarrassment.
By the age of ten, Mom had given up trying to teach me, because we were both tired of it. I had outgrown the bicycle Mom had bought me without ever riding it. Through the many battles over it and failed trials, though, it looked like it had been through a war. I had three younger siblings by this time and all of them had learned to ride bicycles with no more than the usual struggles of learning. When my four-year-old brother, Dominic, mastered the skill, I knew it was time I overcame my fear and learned. Somehow, I took strength and courage from my little brother and managed to keep a bicycle in the upright position long enough to say I could ride a bike. I continue to struggle with the balance and would not say the skill is something I ever mastered, but at least I got over feeling like a failure.
When it came time for me to learn to drive a car, the fear of not being in control returned. I put off getting my permit in attempt to make excuses for not getting my license. Everyone else my age seemed very excited to have the opportunity to drive, but I found ways to avoid it. I used the same courage I had gained with the bicycle to tackle my fear of driving and met the challenge. I did not want to be the only teenager around that could not drive a car. At age sixteen I did get my license and have become a good driver. It did not require balance as the bicycle did and control was easier to gain.
Although the fear of not being in control has played a part throughout my life to this point, I have not let it take over my life. With courage and determination, I have overcome the difficult challenges in my life and plan to take on any new challenges that come along with the same determination. When people are faced with challenging situations, they have two choices.
They can either give up and accept defeat or they can face their fears and the challenge and triumphantly overcome them. Now when I hear the phrase “it’s like riding a bike” I know the task might not be easy, but it can be accomplished and once it is learned it will never be forgotten. It is very easy for young children to be permanently affected by childhood experiences and although I laugh about it now, it did play a role in my learning to drive a car.