I never had a bike in my childhood and as such never learnt to cycle as a child. I remember vividly when I was about six and one of my cousins tried to teach me how to cycle. I was not a risk taker back then and riding on two wheels in a straight line seemed like too much of a risk to take. So, I didn’t follow through.
Then I signed up for a job in America where the only way to get around was cycling. I didn’t let that intimidate me. I thought to myself: how hard can it be to learn? Before departing for America I asked my boyfriend if he could teach me. In spite of his good intentions, it was impossible to learn on his big boy bike. So I left for America with no cycling skills but with a lot of optimism that I would pick up the skill somehow whilst working. On my first week, I managed to get a bike from one of my customers who felt pity that I was having to walk such long distances. Needles to say, I couldn’t ride that one either. Far too big for me to feel comfortable on it. I still remember one of my colleagues giving me cycling lessons in the car park outside the apartment where we were staying and me kind of getting the gist of it, but when it came to cycling for good I just couldn’t do it.
Five years on, I had the opportunity to cycle again. This time in Dominican Republic. The resort where we were staying lent us bikes to go to the market. I was still terrified by the prospect of cycling but at the same time excited about the adventure. I am so grateful that not only they allowed me to choose my own bike from the ones they had available, but also they allowed me to practice for a bit before departing as a group. My boyfriend patiently guided me on how to cycle up and down the pavement and by the time it came to all leaving for the market, I had built up enough gathered confidence. I still remember feeling so proud that I managed to cycle at pace and stick to the group and even continued to cycle around while everyone was inside the market shopping. “That’s it!” I said to myself, “I finally got it”. One successful afternoon.
Three years on, my boyfriend and I went to Santa Barbara and the hotel where we were staying gave us bikes at our disposal. Of course I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. I was soon to discover that Santa Barbara was the ideal place for cycling. With a bike route built right on the beach, cycling there was scenic and beautiful. So much so, that I even built up the courage to go cycling in the city centre on busy roads with hills taking me up and down.
After my sporadic cycling lessons in America, one day, an advert about a cycling trip in France caught my attention so much so, that this idyllic image of being on a bike on a scenic route in France seemed like such a great thing to do. Next thing we knew, we landed in Tours, hires bikes and set off to tour the Loire Valley.
It still surprises me how during my two sporadic cycling lessons in Dominican Republic and Santa Barbara, I built up so much courage and enthusiasm for cycling that I decided to commit to some serious cycling in France. However, the most surprising part is that cycling, out of all the sports and pastimes, the one sport that for a long time I was so inapt at, brought me and my boyfriend together even more and culminated to us getting engaged in front of the most beautiful castle I have ever seen, Chenonceau.