The Bicycle Virgin
Tales in pedaling
By Christie Chisholm
The response usually goes something like this: “Wait. How did you not learn how to ride a bike until now?” At which point I realize it’s not all that easy to explain.
I’m 23 years old. Before two Wednesdays ago, I had never successfully ridden a bicycle, although I had occasionally tried to sit on one. I was a bicycle virgin—and there I was, losing it in a parking lot off Central on a shady afternoon. Sort of gives you shivers.
I was a timid child; always cowering behind my parent’s knees at dinner parties when all the other kids were playing, usually only gaining enough confidence to talk to another 5-year-old 10 minutes before leaving. I never learned to rollerblade, or ski, or snowboard. I did briefly dabble in roller- and ice-skating, but found it too high-stress to continue. In middle school, I conquered my fears long enough to learn to skateboard—it was worth it to be cool.
But I never learned how to ride a bicycle. Sure, my parents wanted me to. Sure, my father bought me a cute little pink bike with rainbow streamers and a yellow foam radio that velcroed onto the handlebars, complete with tiny pink training wheels. But those training wheels never came off. I wobbled on them for a while and then realized I would eventually have to learn how to go downhill on that cute little pink bike. I’m not sure I ever got on that thing again. Pity, really.
That was age 9. After that, the whole idea lost its appeal. Why did I need to ride a bike when I could safely walk, or hike, or skip? No need for wheels, right?
So, in other words, I was a bit of a loser. But not anymore.
A couple weeks ago our beloved Music and Food Editor Laura Marrich volunteered her bicycle and her time to my cause. She and her boyfriend accompanied me to a neighborhood parking lot—and my lessons began. They both took turns holding the seat of the bike while I tried to pedal along, stopping every five feet out of fear I would tip over. Eventually, I’d pedal longer and they’d pretend to keep holding on. When I realized they were lying, I, like every good 6-year-old, realized I was actually bicycling. Then I started on my own, still stopping every few feet, then gaining courage to look past the front tire, then doing loops and lopsided figure-eights.
Do you know how long it took? Twenty minutes. I waited 23 years, and it took me 20 minutes to learn how to ride a bicycle. It’s ridiculous, the things we avoid for no reason.
Now folks around the office are getting a kick out of my newfound hobby. I freakin’ love bicycles. Laura loaned me her bike until I can get my own (which I’ll hopefully have by the time you’re reading this). I’m riding it to the office every day (I’m finally sidewalk-ready, but still not street-ready). I’m practicing in the evenings.
The moral of this story? Kids, don’t wait until you’re out of college to learn how to ride a bike—it’s probably very useful while you’re in college. Also, Albuquerque happens to be a wonderful place to ride a bike, so if yours is sitting in your closet or garage, dust it off, fix it up, and get on that thing.
I love bicycles.
NEWSLETTERS Great Alibi stories, events and deals delivered to your inbox each week. No fooling!
River of Lights at ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden
Simon Gronowski at Vista Grande Community CenterMore Recommended Events ››