When folks say you can still do something you haven’t done in a long time, they often add: “It’s like riding a bicycle.”
Who thinks these things up? I rode a bicycle when I was younger, and I tried it again later and remembered everything except how to keep it upright. I learned early that bicycles can be dangerous.
We lived west of Madison in the Flint Hills. I wanted a bicycle like the kid who lived next door because it had a speedometer. But my dad didn’t think knowing how fast I was going was essential.
I had an idea for what I thought would be the next best thing. James and I would see how fast we could make his bike go and watch it on the speedometer while we were doing it.
If you’ve spent any time in the Flint Hills, you know there are some steep hills. The one I had in mind was really steep, and paved with flint rocks, slippery and sharp. It was a county road with very little traffic. My friend went first and got the speedometer up to 25 or 30 mph. I wasn’t going to waste my one ride with a speedometer going that slow. So I started pedaling quite a way before the crest of the hill and was flying when I started my descent.
The speedometer reached 30, then 35, and wavered close to 40 before the bike’s rear wheel began to wobble. Still, I pedaled. Just as the speedometer passed 40, I took a dive over the handle bars and hit my head on a rock that left a sizable gash in my forehead.
A lady who had had some experience in a doctor’s office was visiting my mother. She closed the wound with what she called a butterfly bandage, which took the place of stitches. I still own a bicycle, but haven’t ridden it for several years, and there is a good reason.
When we were in the Netherlands with our grown children a few years ago my son and daughter-in-law rented bicycles. Bicycles are everywhere in the Netherlands. You soon learn to get out of the way when you hear a jingle. Tedd urged me to get on Janet’s bike and ride to a nearby canal with him.
I swung a leg over and tried to scoot up on the seat. The bicycle and I promptly toppled to the Netherlands dirt.
I decided that at my age, the best way to avoid a bicycle injury was not to get on one.
Contact Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org.