We have this saying in English “It’s like riding a bike.” That is the abbreviated version, whereas the full version is “It’s like riding a bike; it all comes back to you as soon as you begin.”
That is all well and good as philosophy goes, but what if you are indeed trying to ride a bike again? Last evening, I got this wild hare to go bike riding on Margit-sziget, Margit Island, or Margaret Island, take your pick. It is all the same to me. Perhaps the wild hare idea came about because the island was originally called Rabbit Island due to an infestation of the fluffy-tailed creatures.
Now the idea for bike riding was definitely a wild idea for me for multiple reasons. I have this severe allergy to anything closely resembling exercise. Plus, I have not been on a bike let alone bike riding in, oh let me guess, forty years, perhaps more. If he were dead, I would swear I was channeling the spirit of Lance Armstrong. Instead, it must have been a temporary psychosis.
There is only one place on the island where they rent regular bikes. All of the other rentals are the bike carriages where you sit side by side and either two or four of you pedal. Shouldn’t they be called quadcycles?
Once we found the bikes, I looked mine over like a stranger wary of a vicious stray dog, leery of what dangers may lie ahead. Just to be safe, I chose a women’s bike. There was no sense in taking extra risks with that added bar they add to a man’s bike. Once I straddled the thing, I wished everyone in the area would suddenly have their attention averted to something happening in the Danube. I didn’t want anyone to see that the expression “It’s like riding a bike; it all comes back to you as soon as you begin.” is a misnomer, a falsehood, a fairytale, or an urban legend. I was secretly wishing for a helmet, shin guards, butt pad, or one of those outfits they wear when they train attack dogs: full body insulation.
For the first twenty minutes, there were some close calls. A metal post and a tree jumped right in front of me and I could barely steer clear. Braking suddenly became the action du jour, which just about sent me over the handlebars once. Steering seemed to be a problem. I think my bike had power steering rather than the old fashioned kind. One slight move and wham it over-corrected in one direction or another. After the first half hour, I had some confidence. I do hope those two old ladies understood my Hungarian when I apologized for knocking them over, but they should have been on the grass, not the sidewalk putting themselves in harms way, after all.
When our hour rental was over, I was charged. I could do this again and not wait forty plus years.