There’s a thing I like to do, whenever someone says something is “like riding a bicycle”.
“Oh,” I reply, faux-innocently. “You mean it’s like this cultural touchstone you’ve always been jealous of but never shared because you were too afraid of getting hit by a car?”
Which of course is never what anyone means by that phrase.
(I do the same thing when someone says “hindsight is 20-20″. “You mean worse than normal vision?” Yes, I’m annoying.)
Only as of the last few months, I can’t say that anymore. Because I have learned to ride a bicycle. I can get around the city now. And I’m still terrified of traffic but I can ride in it – I can even ride on Mass Ave, which even as I was first learning to ride I swore I’d never do.
On Saturday some friends and I biked out to Walden Pond, which is 16.2 miles away, two thirds of which are on the bike trail. By the time I got to the end I was too exhausted to be afraid of the cars zipping by me. As I joked tastelessly to Rob and Molly, you get to a certain point where you’re thinking, “That’s cool, you can hit me, at least then I won’t have to make it up this hill.”
Of course like all things, biking takes practice, and hopefully I’ll get to the point where 16.2 is a nice little workout. My goal for the end of next summer is to bike out to Hampshire and back, which is 70 miles each way. Seems totally crazy right now, but then last summer being able to bike to Walden seemed crazy.
My roommates have been lovely and supportive but more than anything else I’m grateful to my friend Jim, who took me around Berkeley, CA on the back of his extracycle. It helped me realized that what I was imagining was far worse than the reality. I wish I could test out all the things I’m afraid of like that.