I’ve learned how to ride bikes a few different times.
As a kid, on a faux-BMX, from a combination of parents and that one uncle who was like a parent and was also, as the ex-boyfriend of one of my aunts whose relationship with us far outlasted theirs, not in fact an uncle. We rode down up and down our little hill and very ocassionally beyond those boundaries and a few, rare times in what I would realize later was my first experience of a velodrome. That bike was red.
Then again in New York, as a function of trying not to be killed by taxi drivers and bus drivers and really all drivers or taken out by car-sized potholes or the pedestrians who’d step nonchalantly and confidently into bike lanes when these weren’t otherwise blocked by parked police cars. To work and back across one bridge or another in the depths of winter, hands kept warm by two layers of gloves. I joined a gym so I could shower there before heading to the office. One day I forgot the code for the locker and stood dripping and frantic and exposed while trying to figure out how to signal the receptionist. That bike is grey and teal.
Then again as the slowest member of a collegiate road cycling team in Silicon Valley. I showed up at one of the team rides on a brand new road bike (and my first with drop bars that I hadn't yet had fitted to me. The seat was too low, I didn’t know how to use the shifters, I didn’t know anything about riding clipless so I was on the stock flat pedals, I was hauling the brutally heavy U-lock I used for my commuter bike, my tire pressure was too low, and I’d spent so long getting lost on campus that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. That might well have been my only ride with that team had it not been for the generous and chatty and low-key champion mountain biker who took me under her wing and taught me how to use all those new gears. That bike is mostly white with hints of blue.