For as long as I can remember, I've always wished I could ride a bike. But I grew up in Cameroon, Africa, where the average person doesn't have money to buy one for their kids. That was the case with my parents, so I never learned. I kind of figured that I never would...and definitely not at 32 years old.
'I Didn't Learn How To Ride A Bike Until I Was 32, And Now I Can't Stop'
Two years ago, my fianc, Oliver, and I took a trip to Tulum, Mexico. One day, we went to visit the Mayan ruins and took a car as far as we could go. But at a certain point, we had the option to ride bikes to the site itself or hop on the back of someone else's in order to get there. Because I didn't know how to ride, we had to catch a lift. I was so disappointed in myself seeing other women just get on bikes and go. This hadnt been the first time I felt that way, either.
But then the pandemic hit New York City, where I now live, and just thinking about leaving my home felt like it would mean risking my health. There were, however, times that I had to venture out for essentials like groceries and walking meant spending more time outside than felt safe to me. Riding a train was out of the questionthe idea of being anywhere in an enclosed space where I might catch the virus was so frightening that I said to myself, Simone I think you should know how to ride a bike. That way, I could get places faster and spend less time outside. So, I ordered a Schwinn and planned to have my fianc Oliver teach me how to ride it by practicing in the grass at the park near our apartment in the Bronx.
When it arrived, I had doubts immediately. I spent the first few days staring at it in my living room, wondering what I'd been thinking. I kept saying things to myself like, This bike is too high or Who told you to get this? and Why would you even think you could ride? I was really intimidated.
Luckily, Oliver knows how much I can overthink things. He sat me down and reminded me that I already knew how to pedalthat I'd been doing it on my exercise bike in the house for years.
So finally, after a week of staring at my new bike, I took it for a ride.
I remember how nerve-racking the walk to the park was that day. As I wheeled the bicycle down the sidewalk by its handlebars, I tried not to let my emotions get the best of me. But I was really scared. When my fianc and I got to an open area, he reminded me again that it was just like my exercise bike at home. "Don't worry about it, you've been cycling for a long time already" he told me when I first sat down on the saddle. "You know how to pedal, only now you're moving. Just think about that." And so I went for it.
My first attempt to ride it was a total fail. The second wasn't great either. On the third time, though, I was able to keep my balance for 30 seconds straight and it was such a rush! I was shocked and overjoyed. I'd really thought that it was going take at least a month to figure out. But once I started peddling, I didn't want to stop.
The next day, we went to another park to ride. And the week after, we started going early in the morning when almost no one was on the field. The more space we had available, the more room I had to ride. I began going in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise, straight, and I could even look back a little bit while pedaling. I'm not ready to hits the streets of New York...not yet.
But this journey has taught me a lot about myself and I'm taking the lesson into other areas of my life.
I'm a personal trainer, and I see so many people who are afraid to start working out or they think it's too late to start. Now, I have something tangible to show them and say, "See how I couldn't ride at 32 years old?" I didn't let the fear of not knowing how to do something or the fear of failure stop me from pursuing my goals. And they got to see that.
While I was documenting my bike-riding journey on Instagram , I had clients messaging me and checking in on my progress. In a way, I kind of got to switch places with them.
I think that too often trainers get this, "I could do anything" complex, and I never want to appear like that. We have obstacles too. And I hope that I can use mine as an example of not giving up and inspire others to do the same because I cant even express how this little victory makes me so happy!
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