Fear of Riding

There are three things I regretted in my life. Not graduating college, not knowing how to swim and unable to ride a bicycle. The first I fixed (see this post) . The second I got past after realizing that being at the ocean doesn’t require more than just getting wet and going to a pool is a social event meant for chatting or reading and not doing laps.

The third, however is a regret I am still trying to overcome.  As I sit on the couch writing this week’s post, I confess to have an ice pack secured to my buttox and a dose of Naproxen in me. This pain and suffering was caused by my attempt to ride a bicycle. As far as exercise is concerned, I walk at least four miles a week with a friend and go to the gym. The most stimulating part of this endeavour is to hear the latest gossip. So for the sake of diversity, we have planned a bike ride on what I am promised is a harmless and doable path. I pulled out the beach cruiser my husband bought me one Christmas whose length of activity has been mostly to relocate it from one side of the garage to another.

The line “you never forget how to ride” assumes one knew how to ride in the first place. I am approaching 65 and fear is overcoming any instinct of balance. Broken bones do not heal quickly and I keep imagining a hip replacement. Clearly learning to ride a bike is a challenge at my age but it isn’t skydiving. The idea of bicycling  is somehow pulling at me.

Almost ready to give up, this morning’s NYTimes included a reassuring article called Better Aging through Practice, Practice, Practice. The author convinced me that learning a new skill or practicing a skill you haven’t used in a while stimulates the aging brain and makes you feel good physcially. Of course the same paper had a first page feature on Alzheimer’s . I read the former.

Consequently, my expectations of a bike tour around the Amalfi Coast have been reduced to riding the local path. If I disembarking in the same condition as when I started I will feel accomplished. If I relax enough to enjoy the ride, I will keep riding. If not, maybe golf.


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