If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?
This is serious, so do not laugh. I have made many achievements in my life. I even learnt how to drive a car. This was not easy. The driving instructor thought I was perfect after my first five minutes of the first lesson. I started the car, playing with the clutch and the gas pedal – no problem. We drove off and he thought she can do it. I could break, press the break pedal and the clutch together and the car stopped.Iit was perfect. Then I had to turn a corner, or drive over on the road. That was the problem. The catastrophe – I could not steer, but after ninety lessons which lasted almost a year, I took the test and passed first time. This all happened in Switzerland. I was a late starter and was 38 years old at the time.
So what is the photo of a bike doing up there. Yes, that is the problem. Since I was small I never learnt to ride a bike. I just could not keep upright. My first attempt at wheels was rolling skates and that was no big problem, they had a wheel on each corner. Some of my school friends progressed to a two wheeled bike. As I lived in London at the time, it was not such a thing to ride around on a bike: too dangerous on the roads. So I was saved from learning. My mum decided it would be too much for her nerves. My cousins who lived in the country had bikes and that was my first attempt. It lasted a couple of minutes, but I could not stay upright. I just could not balance. Over the years now and again I never gave up and tried it at all opportunities, but alas it did not work.
Many years later I got married and had my own children and guess what? They could all ride two wheeled bikes. I had two step children and they grew up with bikes. I had two sons. The oldest is autistic, but no problem. He can ride a bike with two wheels. The only problem from my side was letting an autistic person out on the roads with a bike was just a little bit dangerous, but he often went on bycycle trips with his school class. My youngest son did have a little problem with learning. He is ambidextrous, meaning righthanded and lefthanded equally (but a little more on the left side), so he had to sort out which side with which hand probably. Anyhow with time he got the hang of it. During his military service in Switzerland he had to go on patrol with a bike now and again – no problem. And military bikes are more like metal horses if you know what I mean.
So where was I when all this bike riding was going on. I was just watching until I said to Mr. Swiss I have to learn how to ride a bike. Mainland Europe seemed to thrive on bikes, everyone could ride one (thank goodness Mr. Swiss was Swiss and not Dutch, otherwise I would have had a big problem: I think the Dutch invented the bike). Anyhow Mr. Swiss found he would give me some help. So one evening we both went out with two bikes. The idea was he would teach me how it works. He was a little puzzled, confused perhaps, when he realised that it did not work. First of all I mounted the bike with both feet still on the ground. I then lifted my feet to the pedals and the bike toppled. I managed to save myself from falling with the bike. We tried a few more times and returned with the two bikes. I was pushing mine and Mr. Swiss was riding his.
I then came to the conclusion that I needed perhaps some speed. We had one of those lightweight motorbikes, so I had a quick instruction from Mr. Swiss, that you have to turn the handle to set it on its way. I thought great, until it started moving. I quickly came to the conclusion that speed does not help to find your balance. This was about 15 years ago. I am now retired. Now and again I take the car for a drive. It would be so lovely to drive through the countryside on a bike, through the fields, on the country paths, along the riverside, feeling the wind in your hair, but I have almost given up. Mr. Swiss says at my age I would look a bit strange wobbling around on a bike which I will probably never master, so forget it. It looks like I will remain a hiker for my remaining days. Although I have never given up, who knows? Perhaps one day ……..