I do not remember, exactly, when I acquired this life-changing ability; it is likely that I was already junior high or late elementary aged. I had recently expressed my lament at not being able to ride to my mom. I could not just hop on a bike that was not laden with training wheels and ride down to the baseball park. An additional malady of needing training wheels is that I was different from my peers in that way.
One afternoon when I was on a break from school for the weekend, however, a change I am grateful for began. I was at my friend Angie's house, and I wanted to ride bike with her. Angie was four grades younger than me, and we met when she was "still in diapers," as her mom said.
On the day of this important stay the weather was cooperative for biking, but a bike with training wheels was not available. This fact did not deaden my desire to ride. The bikes were kept in a garage, and getting them out was not necessarily easy. Still, two were retrieved.
Even though I could not ride a two-wheeler, Angie was willing to go out with me and help me. She may have been very skeptical about going without training wheels on the bike I was using. Still, we left for St. Michael's, a nearby church and school.
We somehow arrived at the location; we may both have walked bikes there, since I could not ride. We came to St. Mike's. It was not to be just an ordinary afternoon. Angie set about teaching me to ride a bike without training wheels. She would go behind me as I sat on the bike and would hold on. The bike moved forward and I was able to ride with her behind me! Did Angie struggle to keep me balanced and moving at the same time? What a faithful friend she was!
St. Michael's was not the only place where my endeavors took place; there was a cemetery that was even closer to Angie's house. Besides being the burial place of many bodies, this site also had smooth, flat surfaces where riding could take place. I am not really one to hang out in the graveyards, but this time in one proved very helpful. There were one or more cemented routes that people visiting the commentary could walk on. I did not use such a route to arrive at the grave of a deceased family member, however. Rather, I acquired biking skill on the smooth, hard surface.
There, my skill progressed and Angie began to let go. At first, she did so after forewarning me. I would ride without her helping hand. Later, she may not warn me before letting go; she would remove her hand without letting me know she was going to. Besides my ability, my confidence also increased. I think Angie's letting go without forewarning me was very important or even crucial for this.
Did Angie get tired of following after her eager friend? I think she was also glad that I had achieved so much. We spent a good amount of time on my riding, and I was excited, thrilled at my ability. I did not really care to stop.
But, there are only so many hours of daylight; and after sunset, darkness falls. The expedition halted. Why does it have to get dark when one can progress, on a bike, with only two wheels? Morning would come, however, and the work of balancing a bike could begin again.
I woke up. Was it still real? Could I still, however shakily, move forward on a bike without four wheels? I again sat on the bike seat. My new ability had not escaped me, and I was still able to do the amazing act of going without training wheels. A night's sleep had not taken this away from me: I am not saying that I was, by any means, an expert biker, but I still had accomplished a lot.
My biking effort was not limited from city streets; I used the street by Angie's house for my riding also. There was a hill, though, and that street was not the safest place for a biker of my shaky caliber. Nevertheless, I showed Angie's dark-haired, blue-eyed mother my skill there. Her mom was not the most comfortable with my riding on that street that morning; it did have a hill and traffic.
My time with Angie drew to a close. My mom came by to pick me up, and guess what? I could ride (or though I could)! After this time with Angie, my ability was much better than it had been before. However, it was imperfect. I would not depend on brakes to impede motion. Why use brakes when you can count on your feet for stopping? A foot was frequently used for this during my first endeavors around my neighborhood.
I showed my mom my ability. She had not thought that I really could ride before she saw for herself. My reliance on my feet, besides for peddling, decreased, and now I can use a bike well on my own. This time spent around Angie's house has impacted me. I later got a bike as a gift and have often gone just for a ride on it, without training wheels of course. I have used it to go to a nearby park. Learning to ride with Angie was important to me, and she was very helpful in this manner. This learning adventure was only one time when Angie showed her friendship. She showed kindness, that weekend, in her persistence and patience.
Author's name withheld upon request