The weather finally cleared up today so I decided to take my 4 year-old daughter out for our first ride on our new bikes.
Here's a pic of my new Strowler:
(My daughter's is a Dora bike (IMG:style_emoticons/default/tongue.gif
After watching Youtube videos of Matt Wilhelm and dreaming of doing tricks like I used to do in the 80's, I was exciting to get back on the saddle again - keeping in mind the old saying "it's just like riding a bicycle, you never forget".
Well, apparently, there are many lessons I need to re-learn... like how to ride a bike, period.
Can someone tell me whether new-school bikes are just harder to ride than older bikes or am I really that rusty?!?!
I had expected to start out slow and pull off a simple hang-five after maybe a couple of attempts.
After about a half-dozen feeble attempts to get the rear end up, only to see it unceremoniously lift up a few inches and then flop back down to earth, I decided to give my next attempt a little more umph
. I ended up going abruptly past my balance point (which seemed like hit or miss - more miss than hit though) and slammed one foot on the ground in front of me to stop the ensuing face-plant and slammed one knee into the handlebars. This was NOT what I had in mind!
After a few more tries and a few more banged up knees, my ego was really starting to bruise as much as my knees were. So, after swallowing a little bit of pride, I figured that I'd do a "stoppy" type of trick rather than a rolling one. So, I attempted to do a 180 endo (I think that's what you call it), and then ride it out backwards. My 180 ended up being a 90 followed by another foot plant.
Ok, maybe I'll just sit my butt down, push back and just try to ride it backwards without doing a 180. Only to make it a couple of feet before, you guessed it, another foot plant.
The bunny hop was next. Front wheel - up. I pointed my toes down, bent my knees, and thrusted
my body up in the air with all I got! I felt my spirits get as high as the rear wheel did - one inch, at best. (Maybe my bike has bad bunny hopping geometry! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/laugh.gif
By this time, I'm as equally frustrated as I am dumbfounded. I used to do just about every trick in the book BITD but I couldn't even do a bunny hop?!?! Come on!
To save face, I tried to pull off a wheelie. I mean, I had to resurrect my dignity somehow... everyone can do a wheelie, right? I remember pulling off wheelies on MTBs and roadbikes as recent as last summer. Heck, I owned a sport bike and was able to have enough control in balance and bravado to do 70mph wheelies. Clearly, doing a wheelie on a lil' 20 incher could be done without little incident.
I pull up next to my daughter, who's concentrating on keeping her bike straight while her training wheels are doing their thing. I tensed up my leg muscles, told myself "you can do this", pulled a little on the bars and pumped a little with my legs and...
I open my eyes, look up at my daughter as she's staring down at her daddy - who, incidentally is laying on his back. She smiles at me. I smile back. No laughing, no ridiculing. She merely continues on riding and calls out "come on, Daddy!". I watch her as she rides off towards the sunset. I pick up my bike (and my dignity) and, just like my daughter, I ride on too.
Back at home, I get my daughter ready for bed. The images of my 36 yr old body, flailing around on my $1500 bike and making a fool out of himself kept haunting me. "Did I make a mistake by buying this bike?" - I told myself. "What was I thinking?" "Am I really that rusty or would anybody else have the same problem?". I felt like such a loser. A failure. A poser with a nice bike and no talent to use it properly. My daughter gave me a big hug and said "I love you daddy!". She cuddled up with her blanket and I laid my aching bones next to her as I stared at my beautiful little girl before she fell asleep. Not once, in all of my futile attempts at reliving my childhood this afternoon, did my little girl see me as the failure that I painted myself to be. In her eyes, I was a God on that bike. I went into this experience expecting to accomplish some amazing tricks and come out feeling like a king. What I got was a chance to feel the wheels roll beneath me, the wind flow around me, and the gaze of an angel looking upon me.
Today was a good first day on the bike.