People love to say that you never forget how to ride a bike. No one ever tells you that you might actually not remember the learning part. That's what happened to me when during a recent work meeting on National Bike To Work Week -- I blurted out that I just never learned the skill. HuffPost Healthy Living's fitness editor's eyes widened. It was time for me to take a lesson.
With a little push from my team, I did some research and called Bike NYC, a local non-profit whose mission is to encourage bike riding and safety, asking if they could squeeze me into one of their "learn to bike as an adult" classes. When I didn't hear back, I took it as a sign that maybe biking just isn't for me. Like many people, I'm no stranger to those feelings of inadequacy in personal fitness. For 20-plus years, I never ran, but that all changed last summer when I spent the majority of my mornings tracking miles around my Queens neighborhood. The memory of beating that fitness fear put this all into perspective.
I then remembered Bike Stop, a neighborhood bike store near my first New York apartment in Astoria. Before losing my nerve, I made the call, with mental pictures of the comforting corner building's red awning floating in my head. An easy going man named Francisco answered and, within seconds, he was telling me that I'm lucky because I was on the phone with the coolest bike store in New York. I had to agree with Francisco after just minutes of easy banter, and we cut a deal for me to stop in later that day for a private lesson. (They don't even give lessons there, they just sell bikes.)
When I showed up at Bike Stop, I knew the tall and relaxed dude standing right near the entrance had to be Francisco. "Is it that time already?" he asked. I heard him in the store's basement telling his mechanic that there's a girl upstairs in a red T-shirt who is waiting to learn how to ride a bike. I pretended I couldn't hear their conversation by staring at a wall of locks and wheels and faking interest. I started to make small talk with a guy in a Jimmi Hendrix T-shirt at the register when Carlos, the mechanic, appeared.
Carlos asked me how tall I was, and as he was personally fitting a bike for me, Francisco explained the very reason for his easy going nature at my strange request.