Can you remember learning to ride a bike? It’s a very important part of growing up and is something that has to be faced.
My cycling debut took place at the age of seven years. Remembering that I am a septuagenarian, this was quite some time ago, but the memory is still as vivid in my mind as if it were yesterday. Not for me a snazzy model with outriders nor a safety helmet. Dear me no, we were hardy chaps in those days! My bike was a hand-me-down model with a well-worn saddle!
So, the great day arrived and Dad took me to a quiet lane near to our house. It could only have been about 100 yards (91.44 metres) long and at the end was a large metal gate – for crash landings! The first thing was to adjust the saddle, then test the handlebars to ensure they moved freely. I only wish that Dad had removed the “wobble”! So, with Dad holding the back of the saddle, off I went.
Wobble, wobble, crash; down I went. Try again. Wobble, wobble, crash. At this point I decided to give up! But I wasn’t allowed to, so off we went again – and again – and again. I lost count of the number of times I had to pick gravel out of my knees, but I heard not one word of sympathy from Dad. All he kept saying was, “You can do it. Come on.”
And, of course, I did. Suddenly I didn’t wobble, nor did I crash or fall off. I was sailing along and it was great.
My parents were keen cyclists when they were young and, in fact, they met through a cycling club. The picture below was taken in the mid 1930s when they would both have been in their early twenties. Mum is sitting second from the left in the front row, my father is crouching on the right-hand side of the group. (Notice the chaperone sitting in the front row – that’s my formidable grandmother! No hanky-panky went on in those days!)
After they married, we became a “cycling family” and in order to ensure that we all went on outings together Dad adapted a baby’s wartime respirator into a side-car and fitted it on the side of his bike. This was for me and I loved it. I would have been about four years old. My sister had her own bike – she was eight years old – and my baby brother had a child seat on the back of Mum’s bike. And off we would go. I sat inside the “cocoon” and must have imagined I was in a royal coach – I still have a very vivid imagination.
On the last occasion that the contraption was used we had just arrived home after one of our rides when the bracket holding the sidecar in place sheared off. Everyone, apart from me, thought it was hugely funny. God certainly had His hand on us even then as it could have broken at any time, with awful consequences that don’t bear thinking about.
After I learnt to ride a bike I had one of my very own when I started senior school. I rode in every day, as did many of the other girls. We didn’t own a car so there was never any chance of a lift to school.
But thinking (as I do) whilst writing this, made me realise how often we are in a precarious situation and God just lifts us out, or sends us another way. Most times we don’t even know that we have been prevented from falling into danger. Our God is always there, always watching, always caring.