Once chubby, and unable to bike
I learned how to ride a bike only three years ago, when I was 13.
It is a late age to acquire a fundamental skill that others have had since their childhood, I know. The thing is, I just couldn’t manage to learn how to ride a bike when I was younger. It was probably due to my insecurities as a child, and my personal fear of getting hurt. I was chubby as a kid; I thought I couldn’t balance myself on the bike because of my body weight.
I can remember my parents and some other family members encouraging me hard to not give up. They would hold the back of my bike as I kept pedaling. However, once they removed their steadying hands, I’d tumble over. The fall would hurt. And, like every other kid, I didn’t like being hurt.
I tried a few more times, but no luck. I couldn’t find myself doing what the kids around my neighborhood did with so much ease. At that point, I had gotten rid of the idea of ever learning how to ride a bike. I decided to focus, instead, on other things—staying at home, reading books, playing with other kids. Games with no wheels involved.
I was 8 then.
Fast forward five years later to my 13-year-old self in Grade 7. I found myself in a school where the pastime of students and visitors alike was wandering inside the campus—on a bike. Whenever we would have group practice, we would see groups of friends or even whole families passing by on their bikes. I learned that there was a bike rental business near our school, and, as my classmates said, what better way to relax than to bike around our tree-laden campus?
Whenever our group activities ended early, some of my classmates would rent bikes. I would usually just go home, but there were times when I felt like staying. I stayed even if there wasn’t something for me to do. I looked at my classmates as they biked around, and that’s when it hit me. I would like to try again. I would like to try biking again even without the assurance that results would be better now.
It was March. With our tight academic schedule finally easing up, we had enough free time. My classmates and I rented bikes on a Saturday morning. They knew I didn’t know how to ride a bike, so they tried their best to teach me. They were as patient as my parents.
First try, no luck. Second, third, seventh, twelfth, still no luck. I lost track of the number of my attempts, and I still couldn’t pedal more than a meter or two away.
But I was determined. Even if it took me the whole day or a week, I decided I wouldn’t give up learning how to ride this damn bike.
And I did, eventually. After about an hour more (that felt much longer), I suddenly found myself finally able to balance and pedal on my own. All those failed attempts, and the troubles my classmates had to put up with, now paid off.
The ride was only for around 15 seconds, but hey, it was a start. A few minutes more and I finally got the hang of it. It was exhilarating. Together with my classmates, I ventured out and biked my way around the whole campus.
The thing I realized afterwards was, it was all just in my head. Sure, I became thinner as I grew up, but body weight wasn’t the real problem in my seeming inability to learn how to bike. I gave up so easily, and missed out on an adventure I would’ve treasured much sooner.
I also realized that there was nothing wrong with being hurt. Hurting helps us think about what we did or where we had gone wrong. It can serve as a lesson to change something we did and improve ourselves. We may hurt ourselves trying something for the first time, but if you believe that this something is worth it, then why stop?
I have been biking for two years now. Had I given up on this activity completely, I would’ve missed out on a lot of memories and experiences. Learning to conquer something that I had feared early on in childhood gave me a fresh start—and now I can’t have enough of it.
Phil Justin A. Pangilinan, 16, is a student of Central Luzon State University Science High School.
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