Yes, that’s true. Some people are very scared of biking, or for that matter, to ride anything on the road at all. I was one of them. Until the social pressure, embarrassment and Berlin’s cool bikers’ caught on.
Here are a few things from the time I was too nervous to rule the road and too embarrassed to accept it:
1 – It’s ok to be nervous
It was important to accept that I wasn’t the only one scared of the road. People are scared of many odd things. There was no point being embarrassed about this. In fact, if you let your friends know, they might even help you learn.
2 – Fear or laziness?
Berlin’s amazing public transportation had spoilt me. I could never imagine myself looking for another mode of transport in the city. I carefully evaluated every odd reason I gave myself for not trying to bike. But honestly, what worked was seeing the other happy, swift bikers pouring out into the lanes as summer approached. Nothing could beat the joy of riding at your own pace, never waiting for a bus!
3 – Start
This was the hardest but the most rewarding part. So I took baby steps:
- tried a friends bike – too big, I fell off many times! 😛
- rented a bike for a weekend and rode in a huge park nervously. It was now getting a bit pricey.
- went biking with a friend or two in a large park. (I didn’t get hurt and there were people to lead the way, leaving all my attention for the bike.)
But hey! In 2 weekends, I was already looking forward to buying a bike to practice.
4 – Teach yourself
Some things are best self taught. I set small goals for myself, like riding continuously for a few blocks, learning to brake the right way, not getting off at a red light to walk the bike, trying a small up-hill/down-hill path. (Yeah, riding downhill can make a new rider very nervous. It is difficult when you’re not confident of controlling the bike well.)
5 – Desperation makes you push limits
So, in 2 weeks, I bought a bike, rode through gardens and a few routes in the radius of 3kms from home, with a friend. But the most amazing moment was one day when I had to take my bike and a large bag to the bus station to take a bus to another city. I had decided to walk the bike or take it in the public transport, because I was too scared to ride it for 4 kms on a new and busy path.
Only, that, it turned out to be the most rainy evening. So here I was, managing a hastily bought rain protecting poncho, a large bag, on an up hill route at the time when the traffic is maximum! Well, I had no option but to go ahead and take it all to the bus station riding all the way.
Of course I was nervous! But nothing could beat the happiness of reaching the station before time, all on my own! 😀
Additionally, I advise you to
1 – Spend some time looking for extra gadgets you might like for your bike. May be a device to keep track of distance covered.
2- Invest in a good lock.
3 – Visit Amsterdam! The bikers rule the road. Truly inspiring for a new bike rider.
Eventually, I started using my bike to go to work and even had a minor accident. But unfortunately it was stolen from my courtyard. 😦
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to riding a bike again!