You Really Don’t Forget!

ImageThat’s what they say about riding a bike, you know. That you never forget how.

Frankly, I’m not sure it’s true, especially in my case, but I put it to the test today. Son Bill had warned me to take it easy so that I didn’t go from being the charmingly awkward Mrs. Potatohead to a much flatter version: Mrs. Potato Cake! Ha ha Mr. Firstborn!

It is a beautiful sunny day here and the Promenade is the ideal location for my “tryout” so I threw caution to the wind and got a bike. I asked for the seat to be lowered so my feet could touch the ground if I lost my balance. The hotel clerk got the bike ready and turned to me and said, “ok, try it out.”

I froze. I did not want to try to get on it in front of him. “Oh, I’m sure it’s fine,” I replied. “I’ll just walk it over to the promenade before I get on…”

He looked a bit doubtful, but smiled and wished me a good day.

Ahem.

I put the chain lock and key and my bag in the basket and grabbed hold of the bike. It was MUCH heavier than I expected! Uh oh, I thought… Am I going to be able to do this? I had a bit of a sinking feeling and wondered if I would have to hide somewhere for a while and come back and pretend I rode the bike…

But I pushed the bike a half block to the Promenade – while having visions of my pant legs or my neck scarf somehow getting tangled in the spokes and hurling me out of control. “Calm down, ” I commanded myself. “It has only been 3 minutes and there’s no need to program yourself for disaster!”

I got to an empty section of blacktop and realized it was time to face my demons. (Yes, I know that sounds dramatic, but I have my reasons…) The first task was to get one foot onto the other side of the center frame and be straddling the seat. I lifted my right leg and it ALMOST went over the bar.

Stumble, stumble, grab the nearby trashcan for support, and don’t look to see if anyone is watching…

Second try: the foot went through. I am now ready to lift onto the seat and go. But how do I get my left leg high enough to push down the pedal that is at high mast on that side? Can’t do it. Stumble-walk forward a few steps and try to work the pedals to half mast. Deep breath. Convince self that this is normal and everything will be ok. va bene, va bene, va bene.

Finally I launch my bum onto the seat, make a crazy huge wobble (I don’t think I was shouting “whoa!” out loud but I might have been) and suddenly gain my balance. Lord have mercy, I’m riding this bike. I did remember how!

I don’t feel in control so I ride around this large driveway area a few times to get my bearings. Then I spot a young couple having lunch and I glide over (well, sort of…) and ask if they will take my picture on my bike. “Sure!” says the man. “Let’s go up here where the view is better!”

I am suddenly nervous to get back on the bike in front of him and do this weird walk, scooting thing to follow him. Now I’m embarrassed and can’t get turned around for the glamour shot I wanted him to take. Instead I am looking back over my shoulder, balancing the bike and trying to ignore where it is hitting my bum… as you can see in the photo…

My confidence was shaken, but I thanked him and decided I better take another practice run round the big driveway. Then off I went down the promenade. Thankfully that side of the promenade has no cars and there was almost no one out and about. I had a good wide lane of blacktop to myself so my wobbling wasn’t too much of a hazard.

I rode clear to the end – and I can honestly say the breeze was blowing my hair delightfully for the first time in years. Turns out I HAD previously walked almost to the end of the Promenade. Who knew?

After a while I parked the bike in a rack and locked it up to get a snack. And then I thought, hey – I should ride back to that park on the other side of my hotel. It has lots of paths and I would like to see those! So back I went and even rode in the street for two blocks to get to the park. I cruised a few paths but it was a bit harder riding and I could tell that I have more unused muscles that are involved in this bike riding deal and they will no doubt make themselves known soon.

So I got to the hotel – only one more very wobbly episode at the stoplight with a most graceful stumble-save on my part (yeh, right). Then I knew I was finished. I walked the bike the remaining half block and locked it up out front. I turned in the key at the desk and the clerk just said “thank you” like the whole adventure was perfectly normal.

Little does she know that I am a Potatohead survivor who rode and conquered and avoided potato cake-dom for yet another day…

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ellynm
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 12:26:16

    Mrs. P rides a bike! Too funny!

    Reply

  2. Jeanie Ader
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 13:49:52

    This is wonderful! (Love the potatocake reference, btw. I’m filing that way for later use!) You are going to be in such good shape you won’t know what to do when you get back. Hahaha — Bill just said you are a “living tampon commercial.” He’s always making fun of the stuff they have gals doing in those commercials, such as canoeing. *boggle* Keep these updates coming. I love them!

    Reply

    • thesketchylife
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 15:01:56

      thanks, Jeanie. I am hoping my profound wordiness is not lost on everyone since I actually crack myself up most of the time! Tell Bill that even though I realize my potential for glamorous advertising roles, I am a couple decades past that particular product category… but I agree with the absurdity usually portrayed!

      Reply

  3. Nicole
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 21:32:03

    Buonasera! So glad you are having a wonderful time! Brad filled me in on your blog here and gave me the link. Totally enjoying following your new adventures, but I must admit that today your wonderful story telling gave me quite the chuckle! I think it is fantastic you conqured this feat and have a beautiful photo to prove it. You look great by the way!!! Italy is agreeing with you quite well. Thank you for the entertaining stories…keep them coming. We send our love.

    Reply

    • thesketchylife
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 02:44:21

      Welcome to the blog, dear DIL! I am having a great time and you know how I love to tell a story. Thanks for commenting – it is so nice to hear from you. Kiss the bambino for me!

      Reply

  4. Billy D
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 06:25:46

    Only Mrs, PH can turn the simple act of riding a bike into a “Drama in Real Life” worthy of Readers Digest!

    As she tends to take things to extremes I am predicting a future blog post titled “Extending Italy stay to train for 2013 Tour de France!”

    Reply

    • thesketchylife
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 08:11:17

      Well if they made all that spiffy spandex biking gear in my size, it might be a possibility. As it is my fashion standards are rising the longer I’m here so a plain old t-shirt and shorts would never do. Ah, the things one must suffer to stay on the cutting edge…

      Reply

  5. bdauby
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 09:51:42

    Let me clarify Nicole’s remark on “giving me a chuckle”. She started to read the post out loud to me – but couldn’t finish because she was laughing so hard at the mental image you sketched in words.

    I think the part about “gliding over” put her over the top, as if this action were comparable to Superman “swooping down” or Don Juan “sauntering by”.

    You paint quite the picture. Good reading!

    Reply

  6. thesketchylife
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 12:42:58

    Thanks Brad! Your comment made my day. And since I wasn’t writing the account from a hospital bed, I’m glad it made Nic’s day too! Back to “gliding” now…

    Reply

  7. MaryBeth Tipton
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 22:27:31

    Sooo proud of you. Can’t wait to ride along the ramparts together!!!! And hear the old men yell, “Bella, Bella!”

    Reply

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