I have been riding my bike for the past two weeks, trying to get ready.
Until then, it was hanging in the garage, not yet rescued from its winter home until we returned from the cottage. I purchased the antique, used, several years ago as part of an increased exercise regime. It has fenders, which was my minimum requirement, a carrier on the back, only five gears, electrical tape on the handles, rust on the rim; clearly very old school. No real need for a lock since who else would want such a beast.
When I talked about my desire to learn to drive a motorcycle with an experienced enthusiast, he suggested I was three quarters of the way there because I rode a bicycle, making me aware of balance and leaning into curves; and because I used to drive a stick shift, shortening the learning curve when I begin the training. Those lessons begin tomorrow with a three hour video introduction and theory meeting over Zoom before two day long riding sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Riding my bicycle again after a year layoff is my unofficial first step.
That colleague’s response, naturally, was among the encouraging remarks and there have been others. My interest has sparked at least one other to consider while some have spoken out loud about a long-standing desire, thinking however, they are past that point in their lives. “Imagine yourself on a bike going down the highway with all those bugs splattering against your face. It is something you do when you are twenty and don’t know any better. But sixty?”
Some of the reaction was akin to an eye doctor test: have you seen the condition of people who end up in the hospitable (from my friends in the medical professions); have you seen the statistics on motorcycle accidents (from those in the policing profession); have you seen the crazies on the road (from those who drive in Toronto); and did you see the news yesterday (from everyone when a fatality is reported on the news). The shaking of heads in disbelief; a smirk thinking he’ll never go through with it. Age is not necessarily a factor in the reaction, positive or negative.
In the meantime, I go for my longish rides on pathways and roads where I have to turn and swerve around corners and in between objects. Parts of the local creek path is divided by a dotted line, providing me an opportunity to practice weaving in and out at varying speeds and lengths. Another point of my route allows me to circle the concrete median in a tight circle, in both directions, at such an angle my pedal scrapes the pavement. The steeper portions have me gliding rapidly down the hill, wind in my hair, in full concentration to maintain balance, and gauge speed alongside the faster moving cars. Coordinating the clutch and the accelerator, shifting gears up and down will have to wait until Saturday’s class.
I am excited, perhaps a little apprehensive but up for the challenge. Does it fit all the stereotypes of a man my age, as declared by a neighbour upon the news of my goal?
Probably. And I’m okay with that.