You know that phrase, “It’s like riding a bike – you never forget how?” I’m here to tell you that’s bogus. Bunk.
I have forgotten how to ride a bike.
I may be exaggerating, but that there’s not a lot of membership in the Autistic Athletics Association. The spectrum life is about dealing with physical gracelessness and disinclination toward the social aspects of formal sports, athletics, etc.
Exceptional coordination and athleticism is uncommon, but even common coordination can be a challenge for us autists.
I learned to ride a compact, green Huffy bike through the neighborhood of Burke, Virginia. While I was six of seven, I can’t say I was embarrassed about that late start. I was an official biker.
Fast forward to Iceland, that winter, where my parents bought me a new Roadmaster for the “summer” rides we’d take. And by the time that season rolled around, I’d lost it.
I’d literally — in the space of a season — forgotten how to ride a bike.
I was almost a decade away from discovering just how different I was, but this was embarrassing. Who out there just up and loses their ability to ride a bike?
People like me.
People who fight for every fiber of muscle memory. People who put in work to get to only passable levels of coordination. People who aren’t naturals at this.
I was a whopping eight years old. Young. Stupid. Stubborn.
Stubborn enough to get back on the bike and try again. And fall. And sputter. And pedal just a bit more. And fall again.
My dad cheered me on; I reflect on it with regrets, disappointment. He shouldn’t have had to teach me twice. He should have watched me take off like any other normal eight-year-old who’d learned to ride before. But after a few hours, it came back. I wasn’t about to revert to my non-riding self.
Since it’s been over a 15 years since I last rode, some people joke about me forgetting again.
I forgot how to ride a bike once, but I learned it twice.
And dammit, if I have to learn it alongside my daughter this time, I’ll learn it once more.