No. 10 – Tour De France – Here I Come LOL

Even after finally mastering the “art” of “getting accepted” and being able to make friends as a disabled person, walking at a normal pace albeit with an awkward gate, as well as being able to play soccer and golf to a degree, there was one major skill that I had not been able to master. A skill that most normal 5 or 6-year-olds could do blindfolded. At the age of nearly twelve, I still couldn’t ride a two-wheeled bike.

Then one day my younger sister, who was over 5 years younger than me, which meant that she would have been about 7 got a small bike and I watched in envy as she road quite happily around the school grounds, and up to and back from the one small shop in the village.

The tarmacked part of the school grounds sloped quite steeply from top to bottom, where it surrounded the school, narrowly at the back, before the ashy area where we played soccer, and I played golf, took over.

Although I still wasn’t very tall, (I never grew more than 5 feet 3 inches high), I was able to sit on my sister’s bike and still put both feet on the ground on either side. When young sis wasn’t using her bike I would wheel it up to the top of the slope on one side where I wouldn’t crash into the school, and gingerly take off, without putting my feet on the pedals. Each time I felt myself falling I would brake and put my foot on the ground on whatever side I was falling towards.

It took me a good two weeks of trying for two hours a day before it dawned on me that to stay upright, you didn’t try to lean the other way, but you turned your front wheel slightly in the opposite direction to where you were falling, and that would restore your balance. That bit of information comes naturally to most people, but I had to work it out for myself.

After three weeks, I could go from the top of the slope, all the way down to the ashy area without falling. But then, I was faced with two further problems. I had to turn ninety degrees to the left and start pedaling.

Unlike in my younger days, when I had difficulty making a complete revolution of the pedals of a tricycle, I found that I could now easily pedal the bike properly. It was turning through ninety degrees that was the problem. I tried a couple of times, but fell each time, once nearly knocking down our make-shift goal-posts in the process.

So, I practiced for half an hour just cycling along the narrow strip of tarmac along the back of the school, then I’d get off and physically turn the bike around and pedal back. I did this until I was sure that I could stay upright, under my own power, for as long as was needed.

It was probably the next evening after school that I returned to the problem of turning a corner. Remember, the bulk of my spare time was still being spent practicing my golf swing.

It took me another week before I had mastered a ninety-degree left turn without falling. Now it was time to see if I could cycle right around the school. On the first few attempts I had to swing very wide at the corners, and once or twice I crashed into the building. I realized though, that swinging so wide on the road would be very dangerous, and I tried and tried to keep as close to the wall as I could. The other “new” thing was that, for a short distance at the far end of the building, I had to pedal uphill, but this proved to be fairly easy.

Finally, one Saturday evening, after hitting 72 dustbins with golf balls, and spending two hours going around the school on my sister’s bike I was sure that I had cracked it. I was sure that I could safely ride on the road. And to make things better I had just beaten my previous record for hitting 72 bins. It had taken me exactly 180 shots, an average of 2½ shots per bin.

As soon as I got in the house, I told Mum and Dad the good news.

“Sorry to disappoint you, son,” Dad replied. “But you’re not going out on the road yet”.

“Oh, why not?” I replied disappointingly.

“I’ve only ever seen you go around the school in an anti-clockwise direction. Have you ever gone the other way around?”

“No,” I said, sheepishly.

“That means that you’ve never turned right. Also” he continued, “have you ever pedaled right to the top of the hill.”

“No,” I said, even more sheepishly.

“Okay, until I can witness you doing 3 figures of eights in each direction around the toilet block near the top of the playground and the main school building at the bottom, that’s 6 figures of eight in total without falling, wobbling, or riding excessively wide at the corners, you can’t go on the road. Understand?”

“Yes Dad,” I nodded, looking outside, but it had started to get dark.

The next morning, a Sunday, my sister demanded that she use her bike to go and see a friend, so I hit some more golf balls. In the afternoon, after sis returned home, I tried freewheeling down the slope, at the far end of the school and turn right after I got to the ashy bit. I fell.

After picking myself up, I tried to pedal to the top of the slope. I managed it, just, but I was exhausted and needed to rest when I got there. It took the rest of Sunday, and 2 hours of every evening of the following week before I could master everything Dad wanted me to do.

The following Saturday Dad witnessed me do the 6 figures of eights exactly as he wanted me to do. After the third one I had to do a ‘U” turn to go in the opposite direction, but I managed that as well, as I had worked out that one would be needed and I had practiced that during the week as well.

I was then allowed to ride to the small shop, where I bought a bottle of my favorite soft drink which I spent the afternoon drinking in celebration.

It wasn’t long before I had a bike of my own, which I rode probably every day until I passed my driving test when I was nearly 18. Even riding it every day to secondary school after we had moved to Airdrie, but more about that later.

Today’s lesson, is very similar to yesterday’s. If you are sure that you can finally master some part of Internet Marketing, stick at it until you do. Never give up. It took me 2 months to learn to ride a bicycle while some kids, half my age could do it in 2 days. But I never gave up, and I reaped the rewards in the end.

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