I’ve finally come to understand what those fitness fiends and doctors have been preaching all along. Get up! And get moving! – If not for your health – for your mental state. I typically ride 3x a week. I’m not one of those people that gets excited by indoor gym facilities, unless they smell like Eucalyptus, have impeccably clean and warm towels within arm’s reach; a misting spray that you accidentally ingest, start coughing, but kinda of like because it raises your body temparture and cools you off – typically found in fancy resort hotels.
Freelancing for over a year and sans full-time job, I’ve taken up bike riding on my spare time. Oh, I call myself a renegade now, because I recently went over 3 NYC bridges in one day with my cycling phenom BF. But, a freakish childhood incident with me riding on the handlebars of my cousin’s unsteady bicycle at age 7 scarred my psyche. We were riding on the crooked, unpaved streets of Washington Heights and with one sudden turn, I was ejected from the handlebars and left face down with a bloodied face, stitches, and the denouncement of bicycles for the rest of my life!
Then 4 years ago, I received an email from bikenyc.org with a schedule of free classes for adult and children Learn-to-ride 2 hour classes. It was one of those random emails you get and wonder how you got on their mailing list. I went to a few classes at East River Park and Prospect Park, but couldn’t get the hang of it. Adults of all ages, races and religions brave these classes. Depending on your riding level, they offer a variety of classes throughout the spring and summer with volunteers. For the first half hour, you coast on a pedal-less bike with helmet in tow, provided by the group. At the East River Park, it’s outdoors where everyone could see you. And this little child gang kept hovering over our area and it was unsettling. These little show-offs kept riding around taunting and laughing at us. I gave up and went home. I tried the following year in Park Slope but found the location of the class was on a hill that I couldn’t conquer. Then last year rolled around and I had more time to explore classes offered during the week. Roosevelt Island! Yes, it was a bit of a trek for me, but it was an indoor gymnasium with padded walls. It screamed safety and I loved it; a crash test playground for adult human dummies. After 3 visits, not only was I coasting my little heart out, I was pedaling. Yippee! I had one of the volunteers film me. Not because I was succumbing to the narcissistic society we currently live in to document everything we do, but because I had to provide proof to my cynical friends and relatives.
Nowadays, I ride along the streets of North Bergen and Hoboken and listen to “Fly Like an Eagle” to rid myself of my day’s worries with the airy, saltwater breeze hitting my face. I still freeze and feel unnerved when I come across busy intersections; and pretend to get on the sidewalk, as if that was my intended destination. In actuality, it’s that I can’t hold my bike line, but I’m a work-in-progress…..and, aren’t we all?