And I didn’t just stumble a little or wobble – I wiped out, bit it hard core, crashed suddenly in slow motion on the sidewalk (aka “pavement” in English talk) on a busy and main road called Cowley, which is full of experienced cyclists that were passing me up and speeding to work or school as if they had been born riding a bicycle in city traffic.
I don’t know which part was more embarrassing… The fact I learned to ride a bike at age 5 and have been hopping curbs probably since age 7 but somehow missed this one completely and toppled… The fact my basket and book bag went soaring as I went crashing, leaving me, my bike, my basket and book bag spread out over different parts of the pavement… The fact I had only owned the bike for about 8 hours… Or the fact two kids across the street waiting for their bus immediately started yelling things I at first couldn’t hear being preoccupied with getting over my pride, but, once I had collected myself and my things, their voices came into focus and I realized they had been chanting, “You fell off your bi-ike! You fell off your bi-ike” over and over to the tune of “na na na na boo boo.”
The kids weren’t pure evil. They did ask me if I was hurt as I rode away, and even though I was, I was not about to admit it to them. I actually appreciated their acknowledgment of my spill. I felt less awkward with their laughing at me than I did with the silent stares from others passing by.
I would like to blame my unstable front basket or my heavy book bag or the bike’s rusty brakes (this bike has definitely seen better days), but my sense of balance is the ultimate culprit, and I’ve accepted that and am now strictly riding with an empty basket until I improve my city-riding skills.
For some reason I thought my experience riding on the ACU campus had prepared me enough to ride around the city of Oxford. Let’s just say I’ve proved myself wrong and it wasn’t the first time since being here and won’t be the last. I must expect the unexpected and rid myself of preconceived notions (like cycling capabilities). My falling off the bike is simply a foreshadowing of more stumbling to come as I learn about a new culture, causing mentally enlightening bumps and bruises. I just hope they hurt less than ones on my left knee.