I loved my bicycle…while it had its training wheels. Then one day, they took one off. Well the bike, was a little wabbly, but I could still manage to ride it without too much difficulty, even if I did lean a little to the right.
Then my father thought it was time that I learn how to ride that bike without training wheels. Out the back of my house in those days, there was a very steep grassy hill. My father was of the school “throw the kid in at the deep end of the pool and she’ll swim”. We’re talking 1958. No padding, no safety helmets.
I watched as he took off my training last wheel. Inside, I felt about a million of those butterflies that were so common in the Philipines afternoons fluttering in my stomach. I was feeling a little sick to my stomach. I tried to go inside, but couldn’t find a good excuse except: “I gotta go to the bathroom!”
“Sure, when you’re done I will be too, then I’ll teach you how to ride a bike!”
I really loved my father, but for some reason I was always a little shy around him. I just never really felt comfortable with him, maybe because for the first year of my life we lived separated. He was in the Air Force and he’d been stationed in Alaska so my Mom and I lived at my grandmother’s. I went to the bathroom, which I didn’t need then returned outside. And there it was, my trusty bike reduced to a two-wheel menace.
I got onto the bike. He told me to put my feet on the peddles, that he’d be holding me up. And for a little while that’s just what he did. He held the bike up by the seat and the handlebars and then, just by the seat. We went around the back yard for 10 minutes or so. I was feeling pretty confident by now as he kept repeating, “you see, it isn’t hard at all!” Then he maneuvered the bike to the hill and let me go…and down the hill I flew.
I screamed and tried to keep the bike balanced and in the end flew off the bike and tumbled down the rest of the hill. He came down, picked up the bike after dusting me off, and up we went again.
“When you fall off a horse the only thing to do is get back on and ride!”
I knew what was coming and I was crying. My mom just laughed and said: “come on, you’re a big girl now.” No help would be coming from her I decided. So, I got on the bike as I told, then we went around the yard again, he just holding the seat. This time he said, “Ok, let’s try the hill now!” And down the hill I went again. This time I concentrated and was able to keep my balance until I got to the bottom of the hill and couldn’t stop.
“Heh! You’re supposed to break. You know how to break!”
And up we went again and down again. Finally on the third or fourth try, I got down the hill without falling and was able to break.
I knew how to ride a bicycle but I must admit, I never liked riding it after that.