I grew up in the country, riding bikes everywhere because everywhere was too far to walk to. I would ride to the creek and catch bugs or pull algae off the top of the standing water in the ditches. I would ride with my siblings down the big hill and feel the wind rush against our faces. We would meet up with friends and all ride together. I remember riding to a nearby cemetery with a friend for a picnic.
In the summer my parents would load all 6 of our bikes onto the trailer and bring them to camp. We would ride bikes to church every morning. (My dad installed a book carrier on the back for my Bible.) We rode around camp looking to see which trailer our friends’ bikes were piled outside so we’d know where the party was at. When we got a bit older we were allowed to ride off the camp property and into town to get McDonalds.
When I moved to the city I was nervous to ride alongside cars but I practised. My husband and I rode to church. We brought the bikes into our little apartment to store on the balcony. Somewhere along the way my bike broke and my husband’s was stolen and we didn’t bother replacing either but always planned to.
Then I got sick and I figured I would never ride again. If I’m too weak to walk without assistance, surely I couldn’t ride a bike.
But I’ve been feeling stronger the past year (thanks to the pandemic for letting me cut most of the physically difficult things out of my life) and decided I wanted to give it a try.
I’ve always wanted a retro-looking bike and when I read reviews, multiple grandmas raved about how comfortable they are. I knew that was what I needed.
Thankfully we were able to get three bikes, one for each member of our family, amidst the bike shortages and before the most recent lockdowns.
I was nervous that this would be a failed experiment but it turns out that my myasthenia gravis gets along quite well with bike riding.
The thing that’s hardest for me when walking long distances is holding my back upright. My postural muscles give out long before my legs do, which is why I hold on to a walker. Bike handlebars keep me upright the same way my walker does.
The most difficult type of motion for me is one that is repetitive. Walking in a shopping mall where every step is the same is much harder than walking outside where the texture of the ground is constantly changing. Biking has a lot of variation built in, (like hills and turns) and I can adjust my feet on the pedals to target different muscle groups.
It may be a small thing but because I thought I would never be able to ride a bike again, this feels miraculous to me.