Learning to ride a bike (again) after 51 years
“I rode a bike throughout high school and left it behind when I left home to go on to further schooling a long distance away. Then I got married and had children and life was busy. In the back of my mind I still remember the enjoyment I experienced from riding a bike while growing up and always wished that I would be able to ride a bike again. For almost 30 years we lived on a gravel road, so bike riding there was not practical. When we were in Europe in 2008 I tried to ride my sister’s bike and it was a fearful experience. I could not make the transition from standing on the ground to getting my foot up on the pedal. I felt I needed to learn how to ride a bike again, but who wants to run beside an elderly woman holding on to the back of her bike while she learns to ride a bike? The opportunity to learn never seemed to present itself.
Fast forward. On Saturday, May 30, 2015 there was an article in our paper the Ames Tribune (Iowa) about an iCan Bike Camp for people with disabilities to learn to ride bikes. Immediately I wondered if I would be able to join. There were only 13 registered campers at the time with a possibility of 40. The worst that could happen to me was they could refuse and say it was only for those with disabilities. I called first thing on Monday morning and was allowed to join the campers as number 14. I had to look past it that I was a 68 year old woman learning to ride next to young children. But I wanted to (re)learn so badly to ride a bike.
The camp itself was such a good experience, the staff were friendly and so helpful and were right beside me the whole time, except of course on the last day. Plus the bikes were equipped with a roller for the back wheel and also a long handle so the staff could hold onto the bike as needed. As the days went by my confidence returned, I even learned how to get my foot up on the pedal and get going. The only thing I did not really enjoy was the tandem bike, the rider behind me was going too fast for me, it was actually scary. I would have preferred that we could have gone at my comfortable speed. Other than that I am so glad I was able to have this experience.
I know that this event is for people with disabilities and I think that is such a great idea and to see the kids smile as they are riding around on their own because they have mastered riding a bike. However, as an older person, I am so thankful I was able to be a part of this and hope that in the future you will reserve a spot or two for the elderly. This is such a good way for us to get some much needed exercise.”