I enjoy running in 5k races around the city, such as the NYPD Memorial Run or the Roosevelt Island Ice Cream Social. I also love jogging on my own or with a running buddy around the neighborhood, exploring little-known trails or picking a destination like the miniature golf course. It’s especially rewarding to reach new milestones: this past weekend, I managed to jog five miles! But running is easy: one foot in front of the other, slowly at first and then building up to a faster pace once you’ve trained enough to handle it, the comforting feel of the asphalt always beneath your feet. Running feels safe. Biking, on the other hand, is a whole different story.
When I was younger, my grandfather often biked with me strapped into a bike seat. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I know that one day he hit a snag in the road and I ended up on the floor with a colorful bump on my head and a new fear of biking. For years after that, I didn’t so much as touch a bicycle. I knew that I could ride it, but I felt too unstable, especially on streets where cars and bikes all zoomed along the same road. Last year, when Todd and I visited Cape Cod, he finally convinced me to try riding a bike again. I made nearly every excuse I could think of, but in the end, I knew he really wanted to traverse the Cape’s 11-mile (or so) rail trail, the Shining Sea Bikeway, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. So I applied bug spray, packed some Band Aids, secured my helmet, and climbed up. Surprisingly, I found that once I got over my initial fears (“Why am I wobbling? Which break do I press first, the left or the right? Oh no, what do I do about that person in front of me?”), I actually enjoyed the ride a great deal.
Since then, I’ve made more progress: my parents bought me a super cute Schwinn bike for Christmas, and we’ve decked it out with a woven basket and a blue horn. Now I try to take bike rides with my boyfriend and/or my parents as often as we can. The most we’ve done is 14 miles. Sometimes we bike to the beach and stop to play paddle ball; other times, we bike just to feel the wind in our hair and the ache in our thighs. Sometimes, even my brother comes biking with us. When I look back on it, I can’t believe I let a fear of biking keep me from riding for so long, but I’m glad that my boyfriend pushed me to overcome it. Look at all of the great experiences I would have missed otherwise!
My next goal will be to take a bike ride on my own.