This is Juliet. She signed up for one of my small-group classes (which require students to already be able to pedal on a bike) but then emailed me to tell me she had no skills and could not ride a bike at all. I wrote back that I wanted to give her a private class instead and we agreed to meet in Centennial Park in Downtown Atlanta yesterday afternoon (not far from where she attends college).
Juliet signed up for a month of Relay Bikeshare, and we both took our Sharey bikes into the park, chatting during the short walk about how she grew up not far from me in New York, how she’s a mom of two children (like me), and how she never moved beyond a tricycle but now her husband and kids all ride and she wants to ride, too.
We spent most of our time on a grassy hill, where she learned about brakes, balancing, breathing, power starts, and the power of positive messages in your brain while struggling to learn something new. By the end of an hour, she had successfully pedaled a few revolutions and was so, so close to riding that bike completely. Passersby cheered her on. Yet we had hit the point of diminishing returns, and it was time to stop.
I gave her tips for practicing and we went our separate ways. But we will always be connected. We will always be two strangers who came together because of bikes.
On the way home, I thought about a woman in my neighborhood who had never ridden a bike before two classes I gave her this past fall. She is now signed up for one of my upcoming small-group classes. I hope one day to see Juliet in one of those classes, too.
See here for links to buy my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike, on Amazon in all global markets. I’m an indie author and your support is greatly appreciated. A portion of proceeds from the sale of all books is donated to help more women and girls ride bikes. Currently, that means funding my ability to do these classes for free.