So lately, I’ve faced my biggest fear : riding a bike in the city. Ridiculous, I know. But something about being so fast and so close to the ground at the same time just terrifies me.
I wish I had an epic story to tell. A dramatic fall or a broken bone or a huge scar. But the truth is, my story with bikes could not be more uninteresting.
“I got you,” said my Dad. Of course he let go, because I was doing just fine, and because it seemed like a good parenting technique at the time (French dads!!). I remember feeling the bike slide away from his grip and losing control. I fell, got back up, and eventually learned. But the fear was still there.
The fact is, this fear extends to riding just about anything. It took me years to learn how to drive and finally get my license. And to this day, I am terrified behind the wheel. My palms are sweaty, my heart is racing, my entire system is in panic mode. Arriving upon destination, I have to gather my thoughts for about 10 minutes, and my legs are shaking as if I just ran a marathon.
I don’t know at which point I decided I had no hand-eye coordination. Like it wasn’t something I was born with. I couldn’t catch a ball, I was a terrible runner, and, of course, I could not ride a bicycle. I was born that way : not agile.
It only struck me recently how this belief has affected the way I move in the world. Taking control, imposing myself, occupying my lane, moving forward. All these things. I want to curl up in a ball and stay out of the way. I want someone else to take the wheel.
Fear has its way of making you believe that this is what you want. But it can easily be tricked.
And so, a few weeks ago, I started biking in Paris.
I still get nervous just thinking about it. Before heading out, I over-think the journey, I check the map a million times, I start making excuses (“the sun is too bright!” “there might be cars!”). But I still do it. And, you know, I’m starting to love it.
It takes years to unlearn something you believed so strongly about yourself. Alas, yes. It takes years to grow up.
Ça veut dire : depuis peu, je fais du vélo dans Paris. La boule au ventre et le cœur battant.
Je trace ma route.
Top photo from Friends.