On yer bike
It's important to know your strengths and weaknesses I think. Maker, creator, onion I may be, but a cyclist - I am not. Unlike my beautiful friend Emma, whose main mode of transport is her trusty bike, and on which she breezed into our weekly Mastermind group meeting this morning.
A little known (useless) fact about me is that I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was in my first year at university: when I finally grabbed my brother's bike and did everything a little kid would do - including wobbling, falling off and whooping for joy the first time I managed to ride precariously across his lawn.
My cycling career has been - at best - sporadic. Not owning a bike was something of an impediment, though in my twenties I did babysit a friend's bike while she lived overseas. She got it back relatively unused after a potentially nasty incident on a ride down my driveway (which goes through paddocks and is 1.4km long). As a novice rider I hadn't worked out how to look one way and ride another and have vivid memories of my internal dialogue which went something like this: "Oh look at that nasty hole - don't go in there. I said DON'T go in there.... DON'T go in there! $@%T I AM going in there!!!" Followed by some gravelly crashing and scraping noises, a sudden loss of the ability to breathe and everything going a bit black. Not ideal.
I have always felt slightly inadequate at my inability to ride a bike - despite the fact that I had ridden horses all my life instead. It felt like I was missing a basic life skill, but I'd never taken the time to put it right.
All of that changed at the ripe old age of 35, in one short conversation with Conor. He was 3 and I'd not long ago bought him his first proper bike. On the way home in the car after taking him out for a bike ride, he said, 'I wish you had a bike Mum, then we could go on rides together.'
Instant mental picture, instant connection with quality time spent together. Instant resolve, and the next week, I bought a bike.
When Conor came home from his dad's he rushed into the shed to look at it; exclaimed how big it was (compared to his) and said 'Let's go for a ride!'
Having just bought it the day before, I stammered and stuttered and said I wasn't even sure if I could ride one any more - a quick mental calculation told me it was close to 10 years since I'd last been on a bike and it was borderline then whether that could actually be termed 'riding.'
Undaunted, Conor helped me wheel the bike outside and we went out into the paddock. I got unsteadily on, he looked expectantly at me, I thought 'Here goes nothing,' and then put my foot to the pedal.
To my COMPLETE surprise, 'It's just like riding a bike,' really is true - even for me! And as I rode across the paddock, my little boy whooped and shouted and cheered me on, 'You're DOING it Mummy!! You're really DOING it!' The sudden role reversal of expert and beginner and his whole-hearted, beautiful pride in my success left me with a very full heart: so full, I nearly fell off and we were both beaming like a couple of fools.
Since that day, our bikes have provided us with lots of quality time together: mostly up and down our driveway, exploring and adventuring the farm along the way. I love that Conor inspires and challenges me to keep learning. He sees things differently to me and many times I've pulled up short, wondering why I think a particular way. Often there's no good reason.
Since Conor made that comment about us riding together, I've taken myself off and achieved a long-held goal. I cycled the Otago Rail Trail, 160km of gravel trail, winding it's way through some of my most-loved New Zealand country. There were LOTS of stops for coffees and photos - it was one of the best holidays I have ever had, and I literally say I learned to ride a bike on that trail. All because I listened and connected to what my little boy wished for me.
You never quite know how things are going to turn out; what twists and turns the universe will take, and what amazing things could come from the one tiny step you take today. Mysterious. Amazing.