Laura Zoeller

Riding like a circus bear

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Remember how I told you I recently taught my son to ride his bike without training wheels? Well, now all he wants to do is ride. This is not in and of itself a bad thing; however, because of the influx of traffic on our little country road due to both gas wells and coal mines, it is not safe for him to ride alone.


Remember also how I told you that I was getting in shape so that I could spend more quality time with my children? Good. Now combine the two things of which I’ve just reminded you, and you will see where I’m going here.


Yes, that’s right. For the first time in years, I rode a bicycle.


It wasn’t a bicycle built for two, nor was it a bicycle built for me. It is my middle daughter’s bike, a Mongoose that is definitely a bit too small for me. (Especially the seat; it nearly disappears when I sit down.)


My dear husband – who is the first to say that he has the right to remain silent, but lacks the ability – informed me that I look like the bear at the circus when riding the thing. Having never been to a circus, I can’t be sure if that is true, but I know enough to know that it wasn’t a compliment.


Regardless of my appearance or my husband’s apparent embarrassment, I rode bikes with my son for nearly half an hour that evening. My son took great joy in the fact that, while only having been able to ride for about a week, he was capable of beating me in a race already. I didn’t even let him win! It must be a different set of muscles used for pedaling versus running, because I really couldn’t beat him. After only about five minutes, my legs burned like I had set them afire. After 10 minutes, they felt like jelly. After 15 minutes, they were nearly numb. After 20, I called it quits.


We were about a tenth of a mile from the house when I said I had to stop, so I told him we could race back to the driveway. He said he was going to see how far up it he could go. As we got closer, I decided that I would do the same. I stood up on the pedals to help myself pump harder, and I was really picking up speed as I started up the graveled lane.


Then the chain popped the gear sprocket and – in slow motion, it seemed – I went down. Surprisingly, I landed on my feet. Perhaps it would have been better had I hit the ground. The left pedal hit my left shin halfway between knee and ankle, while the right handlebar hit my right knee.


Somehow I managed to put the bike away and limp to the house. Ice and ibuprofen were the only things I grabbed on the way to bed. I propped up my legs and prayed for death. When morning came, I was so stiff – and purple – I couldn’t stand it.


Once I can bend my knees again, I will be back out there. In the meantime, though, I may try to find a taller bike with a larger seat, and perhaps knee pads also would be wise.



Laura Zoeller can be reached at zoeller5@hughes.net.


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