“Just get started and you can jump up onto the seat.”
These are the famous last words that resulted in my getting an early colonoscopy from Dr. Bicycle. I blame my husband 100% for this unfortunate event, but it is more likely that our competitive natures are the true culprits.
It all started with us moving to the Netherlands with an eight week old baby. When your kid is eight weeks old, you have two options: 1) sit at home or 2) push the stroller around using the shoe leather express. After several weeks of alternating between these two realities (and completely burning myself out on reruns of that damn Animal Planet show about the meerkats), I was dying to move at more than 3 miles per hour.
At this point any reasonable person in the Netherlands would just truck it over to the nearest bike shop (likely no more than 100 steps from where you are standing) and buy a bike. Did we do this? No, of course not. As it had been nearly 20 years since I had been on a bicycle (no, I am not disabled, I am American. It says in my passport that it is my right to drive everywhere regardless of distance, time, weather, etc.), my husband thought I should start by taking his bicycle for a test ride first.
My husband is four inches taller than I am, but is convinced that his body shape is closer to Shaq and Kobe than to Hugh Grant. Obviously his bicycle needed to reflect his impressive stature. So the damn thing was the tallest bicycle he could find in the shop with the seat set at the maximum height. This put the seat roughly at the level of my chin.
I had some internal doubts about my ability to the use the bike, but my husband was egging me on by insulting my heritage (incompetent American) and calling me a chicken. There was no way I could let such insults stand so I HAD to ride that bicycle.
We loaded the baby into the stroller and headed out to the parking lot in front of our apartment building. There I attempted to get onto the bicycle. It took a kick that would have put the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes to shame to get my leg over the middle bar. (Side note: why on earth do men’s bicycles have a bar in the middle? Shouldn’t they be the ones most worried about falling off and damaging their “delicate areas” or splitting their pants while trying to get on? I digress….) I found myself precariously balanced on my tippy toes while trying to keep the giant bike upright. There was no way I was going to get up on the seat short of a miracle.
This is when my husband offered the genius advice of, “Just get started and you can jump onto the seat”. Full of indignation and ready to defend the name of my great country until my last breath, I pushed off and tried to “jump up onto the seat”. Had I been four inches taller this *might* have worked. I was not. So rather than clearing the pointy, narrow end of the seat, I took it right where the sun doesn’t shine (not even the tanning bed sun shines there). And to add insult to injury, I immediately fell over and landed sprawled half across my child’s stroller (she didn’t even notice). Did my husband help me? Oh no! He was too busy trying not to pee on himself as he practically rolled on the ground laughing.
I left my dignity and the bicycle on the ground and hobbled back into the house. There was bleeding (thus raising the degree of my injury from embarrassing to life-threatening…in my mind anyways). I could not comfortably sit down for a full week. This is especially problematic when you have to breast feed six to eight times per day.
And so began my biking adventures in the Netherlands. It took me two years to work up the courage to do any other experimentation when I randomly decided one day to try and jump a curb. That took three weeks and two trips to the doctor to clear up the infection in my skinned knee.
I can’t wait to see what I manage to do in another couple of years.