Photo by Youngie 42

It turns out that if you stay off a bike long enough, it’s not ‘just like riding a bike’ when you finally get back on one and try to pedal down the road. Tonight was the first bike session for the beginner triathlon training and Mo came to lend me his bike and was planning to run right home. Someone else was coaching this session. However, it didn’t take long before both of us realized that my 30-year absence from bike riding had left me completely clueless.

It was a little startling to realize I no longer knew how to ride a bike. Worse, at first it was my brain that was holding me back from trying. Mo had to hold on to the back to give me enough courage to start. That’s when I realized the next big aha moment. Stopping the bike gracefully was going to be even harder.

My first triathlon wounds

Four falls and a nice hunk of skin later I was still getting back up and trying again. Without even thinking about it, Mo decided to stay and teach me how to ride a bike, again, at 52 years old. Over and over again we tried until I could swing a leg over the bike, get the pedal in the right place, start pedaling and then somehow stop the bike without falling over.

At first I was trying to dismount to the left, onto the leg that’s now missing parts due to cancer and it was my brain that just couldn’t believe the leg would hold and down I’d go. Mo never winced, even after I took out a nice hunk of skin from my ankle. All he kept saying was, “Okay, start pedaling again,” and off I’d go, sometimes literally.

But by the end I was pedaling easily and once I switched to dismounting on the right and could remember to use the hand brake I was stopping easily. It was amazing. It’s still like I’m 10 again for one more summer. I ride again on Saturday. Week one of triathlon training is almost over and it’s been an eye-opener.

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