Wednesday, May 11, 2011

how to ride a mountain bike in a dress

For decades, I had a dark, shameful secret. A few observant people guessed. A few, very few people were told, when I could be sure they would not judge. I lived in fear of people finding out, almost as if I had committed a crime once and was living a secret life.

 My secret was, I never learned to ride a bike.

No point in going into the reasons. Just suffice to say that I eventually started believing that riding a bike just wasn't possible for me. It was something for other people. Once in awhile I could almost know what it would be like,almost like flying, I thought as Ed McGreevy gave me a ride on his handlebars on Mackinac Island years and years ago. But there was something wrong with me, I told myself. And I thought it was true.

When I moved here to this valley I began to question everything that I had previously thought was true. Maybe I could quit the road and live in one place forever. Maybe I could find love that lasted. Maybe I could publish a book. And maybe, just maybe I could ride a bike.

After all, I had taught myself to swim a few years ago, gutting it out in the pool hour after hour.  I had decided to learn and I had, despite the embarrassment of being passed in the lap lanes by just about everyone as I floundered through the water.

In the end it took about a week to teach myself how to ride. I refused to give up. I rode under cover of darkness. I slunk along farm roads. I still remember the moment, a little over a year ago, when I started to pedal.

I also started to cry. Because here was something I had wanted for so long but I had thought was not possible for me. Finally I could let my secret go. I could be like everyone else. And finally I got it. I understood what it was all about. It was a whole new world, one most people learn at 8, but what's a few decades?

This winter I rode my bike to work just about every day. Only two of us made it through the sleet and ice and snow while everyone else drove. I've ridden in heels, dresses and everything in between.

 I love it.


  1. I love Mackinac Island! I'm in the UP right now with all the crazy thunderstorms.

    Biking is a lot of fun. Don't know why I don't use mine more often :(

  2. And I love this post! Hurray for you and for learning to swim, ride a bike, find a love that lasts and a valley that you can fold into.

  3. I remember long ago you writing a remark in passing something about riding your bike. I remember more how pleased I was to discover that you were conquering things that many of us take for granted. I also remember swimming in the straights and you just laughing at me from the land. (Though in reality you were the smart one - that water was freakin' cold!) You, Mary, always amaze me. :-)

  4. As with life in general, it doesn't matter what you wear or how you do it...the fact that you do it AND love it is what is important. Bravo.

  5. You can do anything when you just put your mind to it.

    Never too late to learn anything.

    I didn't think I could do yoga. I just couldn't sit that long. You told me I could do it. So I tried and now I love it. I would not even have tried it had it not been for your encouragement Marre.

    I love your attitude.


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