People are definitely laughing, and on this occasion, also pointing
Coco KhanFri 16 Nov 2018 14.00 GMT
‘I’m still a long way from riding on the roads.’ Photograph: Alamy
The main difficulty in learning things as an adult that, ordinarily, you’d have learned much younger (in my case, swimming and driving) is overcoming the feeling of embarrassment. When I drove around London in my L-plates, I felt exposed; and that my mere presence was upsetting others. It was the same in the pool if I was too slow or too splashy. Perhaps, I’d think, people are laughing at me.
My friends say it’s all in my head. And this weekend, as I pulled myself out of a pile of leaves, having taken a fall while learning to cycle, I can confirm that they are, in fact, wrong and I am right. People are definitely laughing and, on this occasion, also pointing.
I won’t be deterred. Sure, I’ve had only about four hours of lessons, but already I can tell I am born for this. I am the uneasy rider. I love it all: the wind in my hair, the powerful feeling of creating my own speed, while also being disproportionately anxious about tight bends and small dogs.
My instructor is keen to impress upon me that cycling is all about confidence. She tells me that by now I have the necessary skills to ride, if I’d only relax a little; you know, loosen the elbow, slow the pedals down. Also, maybe stop screaming?
I’m still a long way from riding on the roads. I don’t mind: the park is already challenging enough. (Although comparison is the thief of joy and the children doing wheelies should be prosecuted.)
Still, it’s certainly given me a newfound respect for the grit and determination of city cyclists, a group of people in thrall to their own martyrdom. “What are you going to do, kill me?” they say as they battle for space on the road. If they can do that, then what’s a bit of embarrassment?