Living Wright: Reaching adulthood without key childhood milestone
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2012
4/19/12 at 4:12 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's Blog
My brother, Jay, knew how to ride a bike.
So did my parents, all my friends and the red-headed kid who punched me in the stomach in fourth grade after I lost our team the blue ribbon in the three-legged race on Field Day. Not that I'm bitter.
Pretty much everyone with a pulse can ride a bike, I've surmised - except me. If nothing else has solidified my status as a freak, not learning how to ride a bike definitely does. That's something I'd win a blue ribbon for, I bet.
If I hear they give those out at "Training Wheels," the workshop for bike newbies, I just might show up Saturday morning for the first class at The Hub, 601 W. Third St. - I reiterate, "might."
Not sure why I never learned, but I've secretly - and rather wrongly - blamed my father's overprotective streak. I am the baby of the family, after all - the fairest, most bruise-prone, quickest to cry.
But Jay, five years my senior, learned how without ever breaking anything or flat-lining. One afternoon in the mid-'80s, he took me out in our backyard to teach me. The lesson didn't last long, as he told me I'd fall while learning. True as gospel, I fell once, then marched inside, refusing to suffer face-planting for any form of exercise.
About 30 years later, having face-planted bank windows, revolving doors, dance floors and too many rugs to recollect correctly, it seems downright silly to have worried over a few falls in order to learn something as fun as cycling looks.
I've come to romanticize it over the years, remembering "Leave It to Beaver" and "Andy Griffith" reruns, where kids did antiquated things like fish and walk and go "Golly!" - and, of course, ride bikes.
Earlier this week, I saw a neighbor who has at least 75 pounds on me riding a bike - with what seemed like ease. And a smile on his face! If he can do it, so can I. Maybe.
Known in local circles as "Iron Mary," Mary Benes is the first person I think of when it comes to biking. She's a staunch supporter of multiple sclerosis awareness and research.
I texted her recently about why she liked it, as I apparently need references before even considering a new form of exercise.
"It's your first taste of freedom on wheels," she said. "Besides, when I'm on my bike, MS doesn't exist."
So, considering my blue-ribbon freak status, maybe my own social abnormalities would stop existing on a bike, even if it's just for a 30-minute ride. Or until I face-plant a tree.
Or that red-headed kid on his bike. Is it wrong that's my motive for learning? Don't answer that.
Original Print Headline: Grown up, but missing childhood milestone
"Don't spend another bicycle season stuck in the car."
That's the tagline on the invitation to Training Wheels, a workshop series for bike newbies that's free and open to the public.
Here are the upcoming classes and info on each:
Square One: Bicycle Basics
10 a.m. Saturday, The Hub, 601 W. Third St.
For adults and kids alike. Learn basics and get comfortable with your bike.
Square Two: Gear Up
2 p.m. April 29, Tom's Bicycles, 1506 E. 15th St.
Basic bike maintenance for everyone.
Square Three: Road Rules
10 a.m. May 5, Brookside Library, 1207 E. 45th Place
For riders who want to increase their confidence on the road.
Square Four: Bike Racks Around Town
6-8:30 a.m. Monday, Coffee House on Cherry Street, 1502 E. 15th St.
For riders interested in making bikes a mode of transportation.
Bike to Work Day
4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Friday, Joe Momma's Pizza, 112 S. Elgin Ave.
Celebrate the beginning of bike-to-work season with other riders and commuters.
Ride a bike and reap the rewards, with half-price appetizers, $2 Blue Moon and Boulevard Wheat, $1 High Lifes, $2 PBR tallboys. Also, enjoy music, drawings for prizes and a chance to sign-up for the Bike to Work Commuter Challenge.
RSVP to email@example.com.