Friday, July 15, 2011

ONCE YOU LEARN HOW TO RIDE A BIKE, YOU NEVER FORGET-Does the same hold true for motorcycles?

My Son Braiden, 8 years old.

As some of you may know, I’ve been on track to lose weight.  As of this blog I’m almost down 70 lbs in just under two very long years.  I’m doing it through proper (or as close to proper as I can get) diet and exercise. 

For exercise, my favorite thing to do was to sit on my exercise bike and watch old C.O.P.S. re-runs. That was good through the winter, spring, and beginning of summer, but I decided that I needed to change things up a little bit.  I was getting bored, and had assumed that my body had gotten used to my hour long routine night after night.

Recently I pulled my bicycle out of the basement, added lights and started riding at night.  My primary goal for this initially was to add to my exercise routine however I've uncovered a secondary goal that is even more important than losing weight:  Getting “back to the basics”.

The saying is “once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget, right?”  WRONG.  And if you don’t practice the basics, you could be dead wrong.  Seriously.

Go back to the very first time the training wheels came off and remember everything your parents told you. It was scary… Really scary, especially for a 5 year old. 

I’ll never forget my parents talking about the dangers of riding on the street: car doors flying open, cars not seeing you, trying to run you over, pulling out in front of you, gravel on the road, cuts, bruises, and brushes to get the cinders out of your road rash, and this was all discussed BEFORE getting your very first bicycle lesson.  Yet, you still got on.

Fast forward to today.  When you head out on your motorcycle, do you think about any of those lessons we learned through the years?  We’ve all had them.  It may have been your dad, mom, brother, or sister that helped you. For me I will never forget pedaling down the street talking to my dad as he held the back seat only to find his voice got more distant the faster I went.

He let go, but it was at that moment I realized that I knew how to handle two wheels.  I was unstoppable on two wheels.  It was my ticket to freedom.  Anywhere I wanted to go in the neighborhood, as long as I made it home before the streetlights came on.

Sure, I got many bumps, bruises, and scrapes... but with each wound I learned something new.  As motorcyclists, we’re taught to avoid pieces of wood in the middle of the road.  As an 8 year old, I remember piling those pieces of wood up higher so I could jump them.

I guess what I’m getting at is that in order to ride a motorcycle, you need to learn how to ride a bicycle.  In order to ride a bicycle, you need to be prepared for the boxes of bandages from the past and learn from each cut, scrape, or bruise.

Often I get on my motorcycle as if I’m in a trance because it has gotten to be so routine.  I unlock the bike, put on my gloves, helmet, glasses, and back out of the garage.  Put it into first gear and go.  It’s that simple.  Or at least I thought it was that simple until I pulled the bicycle out of the garage for the first time in years.

Talk about a flash flood of memories coming back in an instant.  I had to stop before I pulled out of my garage.  I looked both ways and then looked both ways again.  I got to the same stop sign I ride to with my motorcycle and found myself waiting even longer to pull out onto the main road.

Once I’m on the main road, I’m constantly looking in my mirror, looking at my path in front of me and watching out for car doors.  I find myself anticipating other vehicles movements and preparing myself for all the “what ifs” my parents told me about over 30 years ago.

Never forget the basics.  Take a basic class then take an advanced class.  They are free in Pennsylvania.  Or if you don’t want to wait for a weekend to open up, pull the bicycle out of the garage, and you’ll get that same rush of knowledge we all got decades ago and you will remember it as if it was yesterday. 

I guess the saying should go like this:  Once  you learn how to ride a bike, and as long as you remember the basics, you never will forget how to ride.