I can't ride a bike. Yes, that's right. I CAN'T RIDE A BIKE. It's hard, and I don't understand how we're all so nonchalant about riding these flimsy metal things all over the place.
Before you judge my parents as failures or whatever, let me make something clear: This was all my fault. My inability to ride a bike is not for lack of effort from my friends and family.
My parents tried, my friends tried, and my friends' parents tried. Heck, even my driving instructor offered to give me an hour of free bike riding lessons when he was done teaching me how to drive a car. None of them succeeded. I couldn't learn how to ride a bike.
It all boils down to two fundamental problems with me as a human being. First of all, I have zero motor skills and very little coordination. Riding a bike takes both of those things. Like, you know when you just sit on top of it and start peddling and it goes? Yeah, well, I can't do that. Every time I try, my bike just topples over.
My second problem is quite simple: I am a lazy piece of sh*t. I really do not enjoy forcing myself to do things I do not want to do. Especially when they are hard and require any sort of physical exertion on my part.
So as soon as my instructor at the given moment lets go after promising not to let go and I inevitably fall, I quit. Because you know what's more fun than forcing myself to do this weird, unnatural act? Literally ANYTHING ELSE.
As far as I'm concerned, life has been pretty breezy, since I've relied on a combination of my two feet and various motorized vehicles to get me from Point A to Point B. So, no, I never really saw a whole lot of urgency in learning how to ride a bike. I even strategically chose my college at a small campus so that I would never feel pressured to ride my bike to class or whatever it is that kids from big schools do to get around.
But something changed for me last week. I was challenged.
I have had the same three best friends since I was 12 years old. They know everything about me. Everything including the fact that I cannot ride a bike. So the four of us have been planning a trip to Europe next fall and, in a the whirlwind of planning, talks of a "bike tour" came out.
Read it for yourself (and, yeah, I KNOW my font is crazy big on my phone. I have bad eyes. Sue me):
So it wasn't TECHNICALLY a challenge. And, yeah, Morgan did offer to carry me around in a little basket. But something about the thought of holding my best friends back from this awesome experience on our trip together bummed me out.
I was going home to California that weekend to spend some time with my family and friends there, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had to learn how to ride a bike.
Step 1: Enlist an instructing team
My first pick to teach me how to ride was my 10-year-old nephew, Oliver. He is patient, he knows me better than anyone else and he's also honestly really good at riding bikes and even skateboarding (much cooler than me, I know). So I picked him as my lead instructor.
But I am a special case and, like most special cases, I required an entire support team. I enlisted three of my closest friends to help Oliver embark upon the seemingly impossible mission of teaching his aunty how to ride a bike.
Step 2: Getting equipped
First things first, I needed a bike. The garage at my mom's house provided me with two options: one seemingly GIGANTIC blue bike with a flat tire on the back wheel or one less intimidating orange children's bike. I think we all know what I went with.
Yes, that's right. Despite my team's adamant insistence that the smaller bike would actually be MORE difficult (because it was small and apparently there's something about how the wheels break when I push them backward), I trusted my gut and went with the bike that made ME feel the most comfortable.
Falling off of that bike just seemed far less intimidating than falling of of the giant blue monster. (It is important to note here that the "giant blue monster" is technically a pretty normal adult bike, most frequently used by my mom who is actually an inch shorter than me and by no means a professional bike rider but WHATEVER IT STILL LOOKED SCARY).
Although I had taken large steps in safety precautions by choosing the smaller bike in the first place, I still had to make sure to keep this beautiful noggin nice and safe with a super swaggy flame helmet my nephew let me borrow for the day.
He promised the helmet was "adjustable," but it was still a little snug, hence the extra help putting it on. I swear I am a somewhat competent person in other arenas of life, you guys.
Step 3: Warm-ups
We went to the middle school parking lot down the street from my mom's house to get this party started. To get me all warmed up and ready, Oliver had me walking with the bike between my legs. Believe it or not, this was VERY difficult for me. Like, way more difficult than it should have been.
I have got PLENTY of scratches and bruises all over my ankles to prove it. I'm telling you guys, I am not coordinated.
Step 4: Getting on the bike for real
When I got the hang of having the bike between my legs, Oliver decided it was time for me to actually hop on and give riding it a go. He told me that it's "easy." I just have to hop on, push on the right pedal as hard as I can and immediately follow with the left pedal.
Yes, this logically makes sense to me. But EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
This is just a short snippet of what happened for about a solid hour. No improvement was made in this department.
Also would like to note that during this portion of my lesson there were three middle-schoolers hiding in the bushes taking videos that may or may not go viral and my 22-year-old best friend had to yell at them to "scram."
Step 5: SUCCESS! SUCCESS! SUCCESS!
After a seemingly endless stream of futile attempts at me trying to start myself off on the bike, my nephew quit on me. Well, he didn't quite "quit" on me. He more just went to play basketball and told me to "get him" when I figured it out.
But maybe that little dose of tough love was just what I needed because, before he was done with his second round of knockout, I FIGURED IT OUT!!! Check me out as I zoom down the parking lot in style:
No, seriously, guys. That was NOT a short clip of Lance Armstrong riding his bike around my hometown's local middle school parking lot. It was ME. Good old Candice Jalili, RIDING A FREAKING BIKE!!
As for my inability to start myself off, I've realized that, for me, riding a bike is a lot like doing a lanyard at summer camp. If you are a self-respecting human being who attended summer camp growing up, you know what I'm talking about. It takes a few years of having your counselors start your lanyards for you before you feel comfortable enough to start your own.
I needed my friends to start me off so I could feel comfortable enough to SOAR on my own.
Step 6: Brag to everyone I know
Here is an image of me, happy as a clam, copy and pasting the same text ("I RODE A BIKE") to everyone I even remotely care about in my life.