Bravo! Applaud!

Bravo! Applaud!

I felt shy and a little ummm… when people exclaimed bravo or applauded seeing me cycle. Well, to be precise when they saw me learning to cycle. Yes, twice I have found myself  in this situation and I felt awkward. But my husband kept telling me that no one here makes fun of others. People are encouraging me by saying bravo or by applauding. I guess he is right. I have noticed people keenly watching me and telling my husband that I am doing good. So definitely there was no point in feeling awkward: the most important thing to over come when you think you are old enough to learn something.

I am thirty and I think I am old enough to not know how to cycle. In my home country awkwardness always took over me and in addition was the lack of proper place to learn. Then again probably my awkwardness never tried to see any available space as a space. So I ended up avoiding learning cycling and just said I don’t know how to cycle. Never exactly realized what I was missing in my life.

Coming to Eindhoven did not right away won over my awkward feeling. In fact I grew more awkward as almost everyone, local to foreigners, cycled. I knew and I know I must learn to cycle to make my life easier here. But I always felt something holding me back and didn’t give much time to learn. And whenever I went with my husband to learn cycling, he used to hold me from behind. So twice we ended up just trying to balance and returned home as it used to be too cold to stay outside.

But the time came when I did not care what passersby might think about my ignorance to cycling. So in a cold morning at ten, I came out of the sports center with my friend who mistakenly came an hour before our yoga class. Fortunate of me :). Since we had an hour she suggested I should practice cycle now and with courage I accepted her humble suggestion. I didn’t tell her back then but I was worried what people might say about me.

So there we were outside of the sports center. She has a fold-able light bike. From the beginning she wasn’t holding the bike. She was my instructor instructing me to look forward, to keep my body straight, to keep a firm hold of the handle and to paddle. Well what was expected happened. I couldn’t get used to with the idea at first. I almost fell. But by the end of 45 minutes with my friend and her instruction and encouragement, you can see her with thumbs up whenever I improved, I felt confident and relaxed. I wasn’t making turns or using brakes as required but I was cycling for the first time in my life. After 30 years I was cycling. I couldn’t believe myself. There was no limit for my happiness. I was telling others I was cycling today. One of our trainers saw me learning and I took her by surprise when I said I learned cycling.

Now the thought that crossed my mind was I should get a similar small bike. So after the yoga class I met my husband for lunch and told him about my achievement and that I might need another bike. I already have a bike which for time being my husband is using. My husband said if I would not be comfortable with my bike then we should probably have another one. Five days later on Sunday we had planned to practice cycle at his university. So after playing Squash we ate some clementine and went for shopping. Then we came back to the university so as to start my cycle learning in my own bike.

There is a large open space with pillars in front of his office. As many suggested I was set to practice there. He brought the bike and asked if I want to practice just balancing first. I don’t know how and why I said but the immediate answer was ‘No, I will pedal as well.’ I took hold of the cycle  and to my surprise I was cycling as if I have been practicing for quite a time now. I started with first gear with seat to its least height. I did not feel a bit odd except the seat was little low. He sat on a bench instructing me to take turns right and left, try to use brake which I found very hard. But I was glad that I was cycling for an hour with small pauses. We changed gear upto 3 and the seat was also raised a little higher. I was comfortable with my bike.

And last Sunday we went to Strijp S, seven minutes away from our house by walk. I started from right outside of my house. It was a little difficult. I could not balance. Then after a while I was cycling. But whenever there were people or the road was narrow, I got off my bike. He used to ask me not to stop. Then the main challenge was the bicycle lane itself. I thought I will be practicing in the big space. But no, not this time. It was the lane where I am supposed to cycle in the future.

I tried for few minutes without any success. I wasn’t feeling a bit comfortable. That wasn’t going to work for my husband. He had seen me cycle and he wasn’t going to let me go easily. My legs were paining but I knew it was for my own good. So no matter what I did not stop trying. I was cycling but I can say it was not satisfactory. Half an hour had already passed. My husband was disappointed. So he took me to the wider space and there I was cycling without any problem. I was making turns better and improving using brake. Almost for half an hour of satisfactory cycling, we came back. My husband encouraged me to cycle on our way back and we could see I was improving in the narrow path as well. “More practice on the narrow lanes for next time,” said my husband.

We will be going on coming Sunday as well. I know I will freeze in the beginning but hopefully I will be able to at least cycle in the narrowest lane. I will try to focus and at least get less nervous about my surrounding if not completely. And one day my husband and I can go together on our cycles, not on foot. It already feels so great because finally I sensed the feeling of freedom cycling brings along.

                                                                    Better late than never. 

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