After 25….Kai Learns to Ride a Bike – Part 2

In the first post we talked about the origins of my inability to ride a bike. Now that you’ve read about all the lame excuses I have for not learning in the first place. I’ll now talk about how I finally manned up and learned to ride for the first time. This is a tale of Motivation vs Humiliation.

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As the photo above suggests its been an uphill battle for me. There is a personal struggle we go through learning new things for the first time. We all want to be naturally good at something right off the bat. That ever present doubt that plays on our mind. “What if I’m really bad at it?” The fear of failure paralyzes us from even starting in the first place. The ugly truth when learning something new is that more often than not we are going to suck at it. Anything worth being good at is worth being bad at from the start, we all need to go through growing pains. Much like this video below of bike fails…

With the whole bike riding experience I had this picture in my head of me falling off the bike repeatedly and crashing into things. Left and right and out of control. Below is a series of unfortunate events that happened in my journey.

  • Crashing into a random rubbish bins, poles, sidewalks (numerous)
  • Crashing into a prickle bush resulting in some needles and scratches for my trouble.
  • A screaming old man cursing at me in Slovenian down the street as we almost collided. Inches from a surefire trip to the hospital.
  • Countless shaking heads, rolling eyes and looks of disbelief with each and every stumble and fall.
  • A huge amount of pain in my private region. It took about 3 days to finally heal.
  • Flying right off my bike while riding in the rain and doing a ninja roll. Then quickly stand up and act like nothing happened.

Despite all these events I soldiered on. A huge motivator for any guy is his pride. I’m a prideful kind of guy. This became ever more apparent in Ljubljana as it was so bike heavy.They even had a convenient bike sharing service where people could hire bikes for free for an hour each day.You see everyone from all walks of life biking around with ease. No matter how old or how small.  The idea of everyone around me racing away on their bikes and leaving me in the dust just didn’t sit well with me. With each and every person passing me by so frequently it would serve as a constant reminder of my inadequacy. This is something I could not endure any longer something had to give. So how long did it take me to get up and rolling? 3 days……

How did I learn so quickly?

  • Getting over the fear. Fear of  pain associating falling, fear of humiliation with people staring at you and fear of possible death via car. These things are unavoidable and once I got good it wouldn’t be any issue any longer.
  • Keep practicing- After the first day with people giving me pointers I isolated myself in a random parking lot honing my skills. 1) Getting the balance down, 2) Start pedaling 3) Braking and 4) Turning. By Day 3 I was out on the road. It was going to take for my body to adapt. Simply a case of a matter of time.
  • Keep challenging yourself- pushing the limits of what you believe you can do. I would set a goal, accomplish it and set an even higher goal. I was so nervous starting out that I was just sweating like crazy. I had to let go and learn to relax. Worrying about every little detail was going to do more harm that good. I’m now at the point where I’m on auto pilot. Being one with the bike.

I’m a fairly confident rider now. Going to the grocery store, riding in the rain, weaving through tight corners, peddling at full speed etc etc. My next big biking challenge will be going mountain biking. That will truly stretch my skills to a new limit. I’m far from perfect and have a long way to go.

I can now say “I CAN RIDE A BIKE!!!” When people ask whats the one thing you learned to do in Slovenia? I can give them a surprising and unconventional response. “I learned to ride a bike for the first time” (with a big grin on face). I’d like to go back home and buy a bike of my own so I can ride it around each day. I just wished I’d learned earlier.

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