In the Blog
Sports series: On learning how to ride a bike
I learned how to ride a bike when I was thirteen years old. It was my younger brother who taught me. A reversal of the usual order of things (wherein an older sibling teaches a younger one). The impulse to learn how to ride a bike was sudden and inexplicable, for up to that point in my life, I had resigned myself to the idea that I was unathletic and poor at sports.
Back in elementary school, I used to dread having to participate in the mandatory track and field tournaments held every year. The reason why was that I frequently lagged behind the others. I perceived myself as slow which took a toll on how I felt about myself. Nevertheless, I wanted to be more athletic. I wanted to be fast.
It took me a couple of days to learn how to ride a bike. I fell quite a lot and had a hard time grasping the sense of balance that my brother told me was key. At last, I was able to grasp it. That sense of balance-that indescribable feeling where after struggling and struggling to not topple over, one is at last able to-albeit shakily-ride straight.
I recall that discovery feeling, like finding the solution to a difficult problem. It was like I had come across an answer that had always been there, that once I learnt, I would never forget.
Once I got the hang of riding a bike, I rode everywhere. The wind felt great, as did the sensation of weightlessness one gets when biking quickly across smooth asphalt. I felt as if I could go anywhere on my bike. I could be free and fast at last.
After learning how to ride a bike, I became considerably more active. That taste of success wet my appetite for more athletic activities. However, I did not spontaneously become great at sports. I still had moments where I felt like I was lagging behind. Nevertheless, what I gained the most from learning how to ride a bike was the understanding that with hard work and perseverance I could eventually succeed at anything that I tried. I gained confidence and the motivation to press on.