Is riding a bike after 40 years really ‘just like riding a bike?’

Here’s a quiz: What can nearly every little kid in America do that I can’t?

If you answered “Ski past me at high speed, making me look like a marble statue,” that answer would also be correct, but not the one I was looking for.

The correct answer is, “Ride a bike.”

You know what bicycles are: Those things that you fell off thousands of times when you were learning to ride as a small child, but you didn’t care because your bones were made of Silly Putty.

Now that I’ve achieved a certain — sure, let’s call it maturity — I care deeply about the state of my bones, even more than I care about the state of California.

Several years ago, I broke a bone in my foot tripping down stairs after a too-relaxing massage at Glen Ivy Hot Springs, and it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.

All this is to explain to you why I hadn’t ridden a bike in more than 40 years, despite the arguments of many people that “It will come right back to you.”

Yes, I get it. The whole “It’s just like riding a bike” thing. But I would like to reiterate that I hadn’t ridden a bike in four decades.

When I was 20 years old, I rented a bike in Venice Beach, and I was so wobbly that I nearly wiped out at least 302 people on the bike path.

After that, I had post-traumatic stress, and I never rode a bike again. After all, we live in Southern California, where the car is king. People drive their cars two blocks to workout at the gym. Yes, you do. I’ve seen you.

A few years ago, I bought myself one of the adult tricycles, you know the ones you see with the “Sexy Senior Citizen” flags waving from the back, just to ride around the neighborhood and to the grocery store.

It was so much fun that my teenagers kept stealing it and fighting over whose turn it was to ride.

But, meanwhile, I decided to take the teenagers back to Costa Rica, to a Caribbean town called Puerto Viejo that we all enjoyed last year.

I’m bringing, gulp, four teenagers with me, (I know, I need therapy) so I won’t be spending a lot of money outside of the cabana I rented for us to share.

I realized we can rent bikes for $5 a day, and ride them to nearly everywhere we want to go, including some gorgeous beaches.

That set me to longing once again for the feeling of pedals under my feet and wind blowing through my long dyed hair.

So that’s when I went online and found Kellie Morris of BikeUcation, who’s giving me lessons in how to ride a bike as an adult. She showed up on a recent Saturday morning with a van, helmets and a loaner bike for me, and my re-education began.

Things started out a bit rocky, which is to say I forgot that bikes are endowed with things called “brakes,” and as a result crashed into the curb, falling onto the pavement, screaming at the top of my lungs and bonking my head.

If you’ve ever wondered if those bike helmets work, well, yes they do. They work great, and I didn’t lose any extra gray matter.

After that, Kellie’s hair turned prematurely gray and she had to get tough with me, because I kept whining about how I was scared and how I couldn’t do it.

She channeled her inner Marine drill sergeant and gave me a firm lecture about how I’d already decided I couldn’t do this, so what was the point?

I didn’t realize I was also getting a therapy session with my $60 lesson, but it worked, because I got mad and said, “Yes I can do this.” And then I did.

We practiced re-learning how to balance on a bike, and then I took off down my quiet street and actually was able to ride without endangering any lives.

I did wipe out one more time, because I seem to like hitting the curb, but I never realized my worst fear, which was to break my shoulder.

Kellie’s coming to give me more lessons before we take off for Costa Rica, and then I fully intend to cruise the streets of Puerto Viejo like a pro when we get there. Kellie’s company, BikeUcation, is on Facebook, in case you want to find her.

Once I’ve mastered bike riding, I intend to tackle long division. That’s another skill I haven’t practiced in 40 years. And then I’ll learn to tie my shoes.


Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @FrumpyMom

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