It’s been awhile since I rode a bike. The last time I owned one I was living in England and used it for two reasons; transportation to school and to do my paper route. By that point I’d been using a gear shift bike with the brakes on the handles for years. I could instinctively pull on the brakes, but that wasn’t always the case. The first time I rode such a bike I might’ve had a slight accident.

We were living in Georgia when, at the age of eleven, I got my first gear shift bike. Before that I’d had bikes that required you to peddle backwards in order to stop which was a deeply ingrained habit. I gave that little consideration. After all, I’d taught myself to ride a bike without training wheels in the space of a day. I was certain that I could handle a ‘grown up’ bike on my own. I had no idea how far I’d just shoved my foot down my mouth.

I’d a pair of friends–brothers–who lived on a cul-de-sac at the end of my street. I decided to go over there on that fateful summer day to hang out with them, as well as show them my new bike. So, I took off without a helmet and rode down the street. I turned onto the cul-de-sac which–as luck would have it–sloped downhill. A thrill of excitement went through me as I sped up. Closer their house came. Ever closer. And–as I suddenly realized–so was the curb. I started peddling backwards to stop. Aside from the light grind of metal on metal I didn’t slow. At the last second I realized my error and yanked on the brakes on the handles–just as I hit the curb.

My front wheel ran head first into the curb, driving the back of the bike–and me–up. It swung around and deposited me–thankfully–on my friend’s yard where I landed with a soft thump. When I stood I found that I was unharmed as was my new bike. I parked it in my friends yard before going to the door. I don’t recall if they were able to have visitors on that day or not, but I learned a lesson. Never think that you always know what you’re doing.

And don’t forget to brake!

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Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.

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