We are going on holiday. We have booked a cottage by the lake, not far from the beach and we are excited. It will be our first going-away-holiday for a few years. We are taking the girls but not the boys. They will be staying home. They will go to work and look after the cats. Poor them! Poor cats! Will the boys remember to clean the kitty litter?

In the shed of our dream cottage-by-the-lake there are six bikes and I have been thinking…

Could I become a bike rider at the ripe young age of 50? Could I be daring? Will I fall off?

I can ride an exercise bike. I do that nearly every day. I perch up there, my legs pumping up and down and never once have I toppled off. I turn the tension knob and struggle up make-believe hills. Then I fly down the other side before challenging myself to a flat terrain sprint. My legs are a blur. And still I don’t fall off.

But a real bike?

I never learnt to ride a two wheeler bike as a child. I never had the opportunity. Our house sat halfway down a steep hill. My mother imagined her eldest daughter flying down that road, pigtails streaming, voice screaming as she sped out of control…. and landing in a heap, arms and legs everywhere. I guess my mother couldn’t bear the thought of having to pick up the pieces. It wasn’t worth the worry. So she never bought me a bike. Child protection, I guess.

Andy is a cyclist. More precisely, he is a cyclist when he has a bike to ride. Quite often he goes to the garage all primed for exercise only to discover his bike is missing a seat, a wheel, a chain… Someone, who shall be nameless, has once again transplanted bits of Andy’s bike to his own. Need a new tyre? No problem! Just exchange a wheel with Dad’s bike, the spare parts bike. He won’t mind. Or will he? Bike bits litter the garage floor and rarely is there a bike complete and ready for action.

Years ago, Andy and I went youth hostelling in Bath, England. We discovered a bike hire shop and Andy’s eyes lit up as he imagined cycling around Bath: Far more fun than sight-seeing on foot.  We could cover more distance, whip in and out of the traffic, experience the thrill of flying along in the breeze…

So bikes were hired and seats were adjusted. I mounted eager for that thrilling experience. Soon I would be flying along effortlessly, with the wind lifting my hair, passing all the poor tourists on foot. I smiled. For a while all went exceedingly well. I could pedal. I could balance. I didn’t fall off. I was enjoying myself.

With confidence mounting, I headed out into the main street traffic.  And then when I least expected it, that thrilling experience became far more thrilling than I ever anticipated. I tried to change lanes. For the first time ever, I removed one hand from the bike and stretched it out, indicating I was moving right and then…  I wobbled. The front wheel went one way, the back the other and I just knew I was going to fly through the air and land right under the bus that was fast approaching. I was going to die. I just knew it. I’d never get to marry Andy. My mother was right. Aren’t mothers always right? Bikes are a danger. She was right to protect me.

But I didn’t end up on the road in pieces. I don’t know what happened. It’s all a blur. All I remember is being back on the footpath, safe but shaking all over. I told Andy I was never going to ride a bike again. When I calmed down, I remembered something: the best thing to do after a fall from a bike is to get right back up on the saddle. (Or was that after a fall from a horse?) And did I actually fall? And anyway, we’d hired the bikes for the whole day and we couldn’t waste the money. So up on the bike I returned, but this time, we found a park where I could practice balancing and riding one-handed and indicating… We spent hours cycling around the park, up and down the paths, and I very politely thrust out my arm every now and then to tell all the pedestrians I’d be circling the fountain or heading down the right hand fork in the path. It turned out to be a fantastic day. And it was also the last time I rode a real bike.

So shall I be adventurous? Shall I join Andy and the girls when they set off for a cycle around the lake, when we go away on holiday?

The answer is yes. I really have no choice. Do you remember The Splat? I have a reputation to uphold: I am a daring mother. I am the sort of mother who has the courage to enter races when other more sensible mothers refuse to take part. I am the sort of mother who runs races and falls splat on her face and still gets up and vows to do it all over again.

But for just one moment I think: What if I go splat again? What if my bike wobbles out of control and deposits me splash in the lake? It could be very embarrassing. I may end up with my hair plastered close to my head. But will that kill me? No. I am willing to take the risk.

We are going on holiday, our first away-from-home holiday in years. I have booked a cottage by the lake, not far from the sea. In the shed of our dream cottage-by-the-lake there are six bikes and we are going cycling: Andy, the girls and me.
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  1. Of course, you'll be alright. You'll wibble; then, you'll wobble; then, you'll go splat - then, you'll come home, write a funny post, we'll all fall around laughing and that's when it will have been worth every cut, scratch, bruise and scrape!

    Seriously though, Sue, don't kill yourself - it's not worth it, your family's worth more than that!

    It's no good - I can't be serious after being presented with the image of an unsuspecting public being entertained by you doing circus antics on the back of a bike. Does the bike really deserve this?

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  2. Vicky,

    I may not wibble or wobble. Have you considered I might get very good at cycling? Instead of coming home and writing a funny post, I might come back determined to train seriously for a bike race.I could have a whole new career ahead of me. I admit its not very likely but you never know....

    Good job I don't mind you laughing at me, Vicky! Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Bon voyage et au revoir.

    I hope you and your family have a grand holiday.

    God bless.

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  4. Thank you, Victor! I'm sure we will have a wonderful time.

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  5. Hi Sue,

    Enjoy your vacation in your dream cottage by the lake! And cycle all you want to breathe in that beautiful sea air and soak in the warmth of sun! Sounds refreshing!

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  6. Thank you, Noreen!

    I hope we do have some warm sun. At the moment the temperature has plummeted back to winter and it is raining hard. But we shall enjoy ourselves regardless of the weather. If it is cold while we are on holiday, we shall sit by the wood fire and drink hot chocolate. But yes, I do hope we also have an opportunity to cycle and breathe in the sea air.

    God bless.

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  7. Enjoy your holiday Sue.
    I am sure you will have an adventure to tell us all about.
    Leanne

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  8. Thank you, Leanne. The girls are so excited. I'm sure we are going to have a very special time away together. Yes, lots of adventures to share when we return.

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  9. Enjoy your vacation! Sounds wonderful!

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  10. You can do it, Sue! Have a blast!

    Of course, I'm encouraging you, BUT we plan to take a small vacation in spring. My daughter can't wait to horseback ride again. The last time I rode a horse on vacation, one of the horses in our company reared up and threw a child to the ground. Now, I'm a bit scared of riding horses. Can I overcome the fear? Hmmm.

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  11. Hi Dana,

    I am looking forward to my first cycle in years.

    Your horse story reminds me of when Andy and I used to go horse riding years ago. Almost every week Andy was thrown from his bad tempered horse. I didn't give him much sympathy from my position on top of my placid horse. Then one day, I got thrown. That was it. We never went riding again!

    Actually, I think I prefer bikes to horses. I always felt the horse was very much in control and not me. I have more of a chance to direct the bike.

    I hope you go horse riding, Dana. You'll probably have a great time once you overcome your fear.

    God bless.

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  12. I've started riding a bike again recently - my poor legs are seriously protesting the hills and I'm appalled at how wimpy I've become! Give me the horse, it's much easier *g*

    Have fun and stay safe!

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  13. Beate,

    We had a wonderful holiday. I got on a bike and I fell off! The bike was so big I had trouble getting off and on it. I braked, the bike went slowly sideways and I fell off into a bush!! It was great fun regardless and the girls thought I was very daring. Now we are home, I am going to have another go on the girls' bikes which are a bit smaller and might suit me better. I might end up getting a bike of my own.

    I think you are very brave riding a horse. A horse has a mind of its own and I am sure every horse knows I am not good at riding and so ignores all my directions.

    I once hired a horse and it wouldn't go anywhere. I protested to the man hiring out the animals and he mounted and got the horse moving by whipping it with a lot of force. I felt so sorry for the horse, I let it stand and graze for an hour until my time was up. The horses weren't treated very well at all. That's my horse story. Beate, I bet you have lots of much happier horse stories you could tell.

    Wimpy? No! I admire you bike riding. I bet your legs get strong very quickly.

    God bless!

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