I can remember when I first learned how to ride a bike. I was five years old and we lived at the end of a street of terraced houses in a small town called Thornaby in the North East of England. (Interestingly, the name Thornaby dates back to 800 AD when Halfdene (Halfdan Ragnarsson), King of the Danes presented the land as a gift to Thormod, one of his noblemen.)
My bike was white and pink, and had those noisy spoke decorations on the wheels. (I think they came free in a box of Rice Krispies). I bloody loved it. I was a determined kid. The words ‘give up’ didn’t exist in my vocabulary. So when my Dad let go of me and I fell off, I got back up and I tried again, and again and again, until I could ride that bike all the way to the bottom of the street and back.
There was rarely a day I didn’t cycle during my younger years, and as a teenager and an adult, my bike was my mode of transport. I thought to myself ‘why learn to drive? I can just cycle.’
Since being in Sweden, I’ve either walked everywhere, or have been in the car with Sebastian. I never thought about cycling much until recently when I was pushing a friend’s bike while he drank a beer (Sweden for you!), and I realised that I actually missed it. I missed the freedom a bike can give. I put up a post on Facebook asking if there was anyone who would be able to sell me a bike for cheap. Hardly any time had passed before a good friend in Borås posted a comment offering me her bike…for absolutely nothing. I was ecstatic!
I’ve had the bike for a few weeks now and it rides like dream. It took a while to get used to the peddling backwards to break, but, like when I was a kid, I tried and tried and tried again until my brain was used to the different method of stopping. Every time I’m on it now, any stress melts away. I find clarity and awareness of the moment. My friend’s beautiful gesture has opened up a new page in my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful.