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I Like to Ride My Bicycle

I was thoroughly content riding my little pink bike– the standard pink number with the white basket in the front. In fact, as the streamers that hung from the handlebars brushed against my arms as I ventured through my suburban neighborhood, I thought I was a pretty sweet kid. Except for that one pesky little thing that stood in the way– the training wheels. The little plastic foes, the tiny wheels whose customary purpose was to help me keep balance, but in actuality were holding me back from all the wonders of “Two-Wheelerdom.” My brother would often speak of the wonders and majesty of “Two-Wheelerdom,” trying to convince me to at least try it out. I had been adamantly refusing because every time I’d think about going without training wheels, I could only see images of my six-year-old body slumped on the sidewalk, scratched and bruised, with a severe head wound, and my bent-up pink bike stuck in a bush nearby. That’s when my brother went vigilante on me. He mercilessly ripped the training wheels off my defenseless bicycle. And by “ripped” I don’t mean “unscrew and gently take off.” He viciously snapped them off with his bare hands in front of me—probably just to add a dramatic touch. I sobbed and begged him to stop and through blurred eyes saw the pieces of splintered plastic that defined my childhood days lie there defeated on the driveway. But at the same time something inside of me beat excitedly. I couldn’t put off riding my bike without training wheels any longer. I would have to at least try and ride my bike on its own two wheels. And sure enough within a week, I was cruising around, holding my own in Two-Wheelerdom.

This is when I had my first real taste of an important life lesson. Sometimes you just have to take action. Or to take a page out of Nike’s brilliant marketing team’s book, “Just Do It” because sometimes that’s the only way to get it done. Too much time is wasted in hesitation, overanalyzing, worrying, biting your nails. In the time that it takes to form a pro/con list, venn diagram and bar graph of possible options, the task could have been completed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating following through on every whim and impulse. Just because you cut some of the hesitation and mental chart-making out, doesn’t mean you cut out the logical reasoning as well. Basically, if you want to ride a bike without training wheels. Give it a try. Or ask your older brother to use brute force to break them off for you.

First written for a “This I Believe” essay, then published in the August 2007 issue of Facsimile Magazine. Reposted on 2/14/08.