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Monday, March 18, 2013

Two Wheels to Nirvana

They say you never forget how to ride a bicycle once you learn. But they never mention the other unforgettable memories associated with cycling, to wit: crashing the first few times during the learning process.

I learned how to cycle in Leaf Rapids, on a small one-speed blue and white bike with coaster brakes and a triangular vinyl seat. I believe it was during my kindergarten year that Mom and Dad took me out to the back alley behind 8 Churchill Place and gently coaxed me into position. With a white-knuckle death grip on the handlebars and my eyes huge with fear, I waited for Mom or Dad (I don't remember who was holding onto the bike) to push me into oblivion.

On first release, I managed to pedal perhaps one full revolution before crashing sideways into the unforgiving gravel of the alley. Mom and Dad dusted me off for a second try, and that time, wheels wobbling all the way, I managed perhaps two or three meters' distance before slamming into the ground. A few tears may have flowed, but I stood for one more try.

This time the bike teetered port and starboard only a couple of times before my body found its balance, and like that I was off, pedalling down the length of the alley and circling back again in triumph. That kind of speed - I'm sure it was all of five or six kilometers an hour - was a revelation. What a joy it was to speed along the road unfettered, the power of my muscles multiplied so easily by a few simple gears. I imagine anyone who's enjoyed cycling remembers that first transcendent ride.

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