I am learning bike… and is it fun!

My Dear Diary,

Sorry, just wait a sec. Let me turn down the luscious John Mayer else I would leave my head hanging in the ear distracted by his angelic voice… aaand done. So I was about to tell you something. I know now how to ride a bike!

For a long time now till a couple of weeks back, I could not even pedal properly. When I told them, people would be taken aback, stutter, question their ears, widen their eyes: did everything except broaden their minds that one could not drive a bike. Long back, my mother due to some complex situations at home didn’t allow us to ride our own bike in our childhood (let me drag down my sister into this please). My sister managed to ride it somehow due to her valiant nature but I didn’t. Meanwhile our bike was used by other children and finally broke down. Moral: nothing. When I look back, the situation that I don’t go into detail were actually nothing but unfounded fear but let’s not digress pointlessly. So after several dormant years, a sudden desire erupted in me and my sister to buy another bike. But we didn’t. Laziness and procrastination meant our summer holidays were wasted year after year after another year. Last year, we managed to go to a bike seller yet crazily came back empty-handed. No more! We bought it a month back.

And then started the grill. Me and my sister went every morning to a road, say Road P, nearby which remains traffic-free and, somewhat relatedly, has got a reputation for overspeeding accidents and chain-snatching. Anyways, the first day we went there, my sister rode the bike till Road P and thereon instructed me to ride the bike. I looked down the end of the familiar road. It had been my favourite jogging track in my last year in school and I could complete 5-6 laps of the 2 km stretch towards the end of my routine back then. But alas, no more! Now to let me start, my sister clutched the rear end and I started pedaling. Over the years I must have developed stronger legs, else why would pedaling in itself become easy-peasy. The second challenge was to keep my balance. I managed to push it forward by a foot or two maybe! In reality, balance was maintained by my sister from behind; I was just pedaling. 2 people passed us just then (I am not the only one to go run there) one of whom told me to keep my eyes in front and not on the bike. It must be one of the golden rules since I was able to get a sense of when I was going off-balance. In half an hour, I was proficient enough that my sister stopped running behind me at any random moment – she is my own Schrödinger’s cat – and I would keep on going by myself, not knowing that safety was quite a distance behind me. One benefit of learning bike when grown up is that you don’t get scratches when you fall. My feet reach the ground comfortably and I manage to put my feet down. My sister scolded me to keep them on the pedal and kept fluctuating between bickering, panting and encouraging. End of the day: super-successful. I had at one time kickstarted it on my own.

And at the end of third day, I could bike easily on wide, straight and empty roads, specifically road P. Later, when my sister didn’t accompany me one day, I rode it myself to road P. It is a generally green road with shady trees on both sides, an empty and parallel side-road with barbed wire of ordinance depot on one side and littered with pebbles, branches and soil-dumps. When I say Road P, it is this side-road that we practiced on and which in turn taught me how to turn the handle against the stones in the way. Branches hang low at places and a broken tree lies in the way at the other end; I have to squint my eyes and duck my head to pass them. On a bike, such momentary blindness is terrifying. The people who come here have made a resting place out of a deserted shed, midway. Some paces further along, on the ordinance depot side of land, is a small temple in front of which people pause and pay their tributes. Road P with all such little quirks and more, like the wooden watch towers and sleepy soldiers at dawn, gives the place a unique flavor that artificial parks can never have. But in a week I outgrew it. I wanted explore the world beyond on bike.

Thus I started waking up at 4 am, an hour before dawn. I would take out my bike to nearby places and cover the night under orange neon lights. Some trucks and tempos would pass me and stray dogs would bark at me nevertheless I would chug along, always having to reach a goal before turning back. Now I can make U-turns and apply brakes easily. Though I have still not ventured out in open traffic, my balance is improving all the more taking me easily through narrow passages and around the jaywalkers ahead. I have gathered a couple of bruises on my arm and now my bike makes creaking sounds due to many falls in-between but I have become generally smarter about them. Exception being the other day when I didn’t apply my brakes filled with over-confidence and missed a passing tempo by close inches. The driver barked furiously at me and I drove back red-faced. And the other day, I was going so fast on an empty road that my right lens of my glasses went flying through the air. I had to stop and find it on the wayside. Even then, the experience is worth it, O diary! The world becomes smaller with the time saved!

Nobody except a few people know that I have got a bike. This is a little secret almost. I want to surprise my friends at the end of vacations. Until then, I have to hone my skills and cover even bigger territories! I plan to get another, better bike for me. Wish me luck!


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