Posted by Mansi
In one of my favorite poems ever, Billy Collins writes:
"It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed. "
I thought of this poem as my bare knees scraped against a stretch of cooked concrete, the lake-like cadence of Collins's words drowned out by bright, brittle pain. We were on Marine Drive during the week’s last snatch of sunlight, and I was grappling with an embarrassingly basic skill – riding a bike.
I know you all have questions, but one at a time, please! No, I really didn’t know how; yes, I had an (otherwise) normal childhood; no, my parents are not monsters; yes, it’s hard to learn now; yes, I fell multiple times. And to those who are asking about the bike and sex thing – I certainly hope so, because I’m not going through this (or for that matter, that) ever again.
When faced with adversity I learn a basic skill, even if the skill in question has nothing to do with the issue at hand. This allows me to procrastinate and pro-act simultaneously, letting me sidestep the current problem by focusing on something that might be useful in the future. Because the next time Sputnik is falling on my head, I can maybe just bicycle out from under it.
Plus, biking is cool and all my friends are doing it and all the hipsters are doing it and I was beginning to feel left out.
Fortunately, a very dear and athletic friend was visiting, who was dragooned into teaching me. I will refrain from recounting the gory details of my lessons, but for anyone who wants to learn, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t wear shorts, no matter how cute they are. Don’t carry your cell phone because if your luck is anything like mine, it will get stolen.
- It’s best to go cold turkey and remove the training wheels from the start.
- Remember to pedal fast in the beginning, it’ll help you keep your balance; make sure you have a strong push off, this happens when the pedal is at its highest point; try and keep your body straight and steer with the wheel. Be fearless. In the beginning, an S-shaped course is better than a straight line. (Nikki, did I miss anything?).
- The first time you go a 100 meters solo, you are transformed into your nine-year-old self, and just for a second light courses through your veins. That alone is worth many, many skinned knees.
It took me three days to get the hang of it. If you don’t believe me, I have a video which I will send you if you promise to give it a shot – Turbs, I’m looking at you. Cyclists, you might want to check out this awesome bicycle list we did at bpb earlier in the summer.
Up next: learning to play the violin lent to me by an almost-stranger during a wedding in Udaipur. Anyone know a good teacher? I could maybe pay them back with bike lessons.