I was thinking today, whilst belting along on my bike, dodging potholes and puddles how life is a bit like learning to ride
Now not only was I a slow learner and a late beginner but opportunity didn't present itself early as bikes were dear in war ravaged England and the Japs had just been bombed and hadn't got around to making anything cheaply. So the only bikes we kids had to learn on were Mum's and Dad's great heavy bikes. And you couldn't use Dad's unless your legs would reach from the crossbar to the pedals, testicles were a great warning device that you were getting overstretched. So it was only on Mums bike that you could realistically try and then when you fell off this great crashing thing came down on you. and Mum's hand came crashing down for trying to ride when you were told not to.
But opportunity came one bright sunny day when the family was on holiday at Hayling Island as the camp we were staying at allowed you to hire kids bikes. So Mum decided we should learn to ride. We being Christine , my sister, and I. There was an ex wartime airstrip about a mile long and just as wide, well so it seemed to we kids ( I was 12 I think) on the island and that was selected as the location to learn on. The lesson consisted of Mum holding us upright whilst we furiously pedalled and then letting go surreptiously. The first couple of times I remember looking back , panicking and falling off. Then I refused to trust Mum and she had to run the whole way hanging on. But one glorious day I kept upright pedalled didn't wobble and sped away from Mum up the runway. This glorious feeling of power and speed was shortly turned into one of impending doom , I had never learnt the turn! The end of the runway was looming, it being designated by a prickly hawthorn hedge, there were no brakes, and no one had told me about fixed wheels yet, all they had done was instruct me to keep pedalling.
But using initiative I never knew I had until then, triggered by the preservation instinct, I turned the wheel and promptly fell off. I had stopped the forward momentum of the bike alright but a physical fact had taken over and my kinetic energy had been transferred to my knees and buttocks which were applying themselves to the concrete runway much as a modern day disc pad does to stop a car. But then I surprised myself .I was really a bit of wimp but I got back onto the bike and furiously crying and pedalling at the same time rode back to Mum.
I was suitably praised and subsequent lessons involved turning and braking and by the time the holidays came to an end I was begging Mum for a bike of my own.
And I've been riding and falling off of them ever since.
Nowadays people seem to do things a lot earlier than we did, but I suppose my Mum says the same things about me. And HER Mum never had a DVD player to watch all the old movies on did she.
Anyway you can see in life opportunity doesn't always present early and then you have to want to do something with the chance. But once you have learnt then you never forget how, just depends whether you want to keep doing it or not.
Marvellous what I think of whilst cycling in the countryside of Australia. Long way from Hayling Island but everyone starts somewhere.