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I have a confession to make.

I can’t ride a bike.

I’ve never ridden a bike.

And yet, my upcoming trip to China includes a full-day bike tour through the countryside.

Why would I put myself in such a crazy situation?

I was actually okay with being the odd one out when I was a kid. I didn’t have siblings pressuring me to learn, and my parents didn’t seem to care either way. My best friend “doubled” me on her bike, and before I knew it, I had my driver’s license and a car.

Aside from the occasional bike-enthusiast boyfriends who promised they would teach me and never got around to it, my lack of cycling skills really weren’t a big deal.

But as I prepared for our upcoming move, it struck me that having a cheap, readily-available form of transportation on the island might be a good idea. Sure, I can always walk, but long distances are easier to cover by bicycle.

There’s another incentive as well.

As I’ve gotten older, all the so-called childhood skills I never acquired have really started to bug me. I can’t ride a bike. I can’t skate. I’ve never learned to whistle or do a cartwheel. While ice skating isn’t something I’m bound to encounter in the tropics, cycling definitely is. I can always whistle and turn cartwheels later.

Needless to say, there’s a few extra challenges when you learn to ride a bike as an adult. You know that sense of invincibility you have when you’re a kid? Yep, gone. I’m well aware that I can bust a wrist or acquire a nice case of road rash on my face from this little adventure.

When you’re an adult, you have further to fall.

When you’re a kid, learning to ride a bike is cute. Everyone smiles at you as you struggle by on your training wheels with your parent jogging along behind.

When you’re an adult, you just look like a dork. At least, that’s what you feel like. It’s really embarrassing to publicly admit that you haven’t mastered a skill most people think of as kid’s stuff. (Not to mention the humiliation of toddlers leaving you in the dust.)

The Boy surprised me with a brand-new bike the other day. It has a nice, comfy seat designed to let me lean back as I learn, so I’m not contending with constant pain just from sitting on a bike (I don’t know how you cyclists do it).

Now there’s no excuse. It’s time for me to turn one of the great “failures” of my childhood into a success story.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever learned a “childhood skill” as an adult? Any tips for me?

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  1. Elle

    You can do it, Holli!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Elle! Good luck with your book launch today.

  2. Lisa

    The two skills I lack as an adult are skating and catching a baseball…I have ice skates but am supremely unsteady on them…I dread anyone suggesting pick-up hockey games because I would fall flat on my face.
    I also have never owned a baseball glove and wouldn’t know the first thing about catching a baseball. Like you I guess I was always good at avoiding any situation where that was involved.
    Good luck with learning to ride a bike! Focus on balance first, peddling second… (I’ve seen videos of young kids learning to ride a bike in less than an hour – parents simply removed the pedals so the kids could coast around and get comfortable first. Then once they had the balance mastered they could move on to pedalling)
    I came to bike riding later than all my friends too…the way I finally learned, when I was about 12 was my grandfather putting me on a bike and pushing me down a grassy hill…it was ride or fall…By the end of the summer I was riding a bike…:0) Nowadays you can’t get me off my bike(s)!!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      I hated baseball too, Lisa. I was always afraid of getting hit in the head with the ball or not being able to connect with the bat. My 7th Grade gym teacher once stopped a game and refused to continue until I’d hit. All the boys, who’d been enjoying themselves, starting screaming at me. Fun! PE teachers really need to learn that if they want to introduce a child to sports in a positive way, that isn’t it.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Steven

    Childhood skills? I used to have trouble swallowing pills, until I was sick as a dog in the Honduran countryside and had no other way to take the medicine or I would have literally died. Sometimes you have to flail out there and look like an idiot to learn something.

    I’ve biked quite a bit, mostly mountain biking, and so I hardly would have my butt on the seat. I would suggest finding a flat grassy area and practice balancing while the bike is stationary, because balancing while steering is far too complex (like driving stick for the first time in heavy traffic). And like driving with a manual transmission, you’ll never forget how to do it once you learn!

  4. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks, Steve. I’ve had issues swallowing pills the odd time too, especially some vitamins that come in big horse pill form–ugh. Glad you were able to do it.

    Thanks for the tips. I actually tried the grass in our yard today, but I didn’t last long–too many ruts. But I did spend a lot of time just working in my balance. Mostly, I go back and forth in the garage…I’ll keep this up until I get better.

  5. Susan Scott

    Yes, I rode a bike in my childhood, and broke my nose coming down a hill and the brakes failed …
    But I bought a bike some years ago .. rode it the other day and i to a bush! It was quite funny :). No injuries. But do it Holli, you’ll wonder why as you wander how it took so long.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Ouch! That sounds very painful, Susan…the nose part–I imagine the bush wasn’t as bad. As I try to learn, I laugh at myself a lot. I spent 75 minutes at it on Monday, and was able to actually put my feet on both pedals a couple of times. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer. I’m really looking forward to conquering this skill!

  6. Susan Scott

    P.S. I still can choke on swallowing pills ..

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Me too! Worst feeling. They need to make them smaller.


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