Some things you learn as a child never leave you.
The usual example of this is riding a bicycle.
“It’s like riding a bicycle – you never forget how,” people will tell you if you fear you cannot remember how to do something you used to be good at, like baking a special cake, sewing a seam or building a fence of tricky design.
But I say it all depends on how much you rode a bicycle as a child, and how much time has elapsed since you grew up.
My friend Jill agrees.
Both of us often rode bikes back east, though I did not know her then. But now both of us are Wyoming grandmothers, and I’m here to tell you that some things are not that easy to remember. Especially if they involve good balance and leg strength.
I’m also here to tell you that balance and strength often go out the back window as grandmotherhood walks in through the front door. After all, how many grandmother tightrope walkers do you hear about?
You can fight it, of course, but still …
Anyhow, Jill told me that last summer she thought owning a bicycle would be a good idea, especially when her grandson came to visit. She lives out of town, and having a bike would give the lad something to do.
She bought a 10-speed Huffy bike at the Bargain Box for $10, but it took her a while to get it fine-tuned and ready for actual riding.
For example, it had flat tires when she first straddled it back at the Bargain Box. Not so tall, Jill thought it was a good size that would be easy to mount and dismount. It turned out that when the tires were inflated, the bike was taller. Duh.
And yeah, to add to the challenge, it was a boy’s bike. After all, her grandson is a boy. Double duh.
Jill told me she polished up the green bike and added creature comforts like a padded seat cover, since she hoped to ride the bike herself in between visits from her grandchildren.
Late this fall, before the first major snowfall, the bike was ready for a test ride. Feeling a little shaky about her first solo ride in many years, Jill donned her bike helmet and headed for the grassy verge beside her gravel driveway, thinking grass would provide a softer landing in case of a crash.
But grass is not easy to negotiate on a bike, so next she tried riding on her driveway. There were some wobbles, but with persistence and the old college try, she finally made the long journey to her mailbox.
Well, it was not as far (or as uneventful) as a trip to Bountiful, but it was maybe a quarter-mile from the house. Plus, it was up hill so give the lady some credit.
It’s just too bad there was nobody videotaping that first trip, which Jill confessed was pretty shaky, pretty wobbly and likely involved some screaming. Grandmothers have more brittle bones than spring chickens and, with the wisdom of their advancing years, they know their bones are brittle. Safety first and all that.
Anyhow, Jill is a role (roll?) model for me now. And I am remembering that there is an old bike out in my shed here in Wapiti.
I am thinking that fixing it up and pedaling it around might add leg strength and balance to my life.
I’m pretty sure I could do it.
After all, it’s like, well ... riding a bike.