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Learning Lessons

I’ve found myself in a place of learning lots of brand new things right now. Horsemanship lessons. Story writing.

And now...weird vintage Italian motor bike riding....

A couple months ago I shared this photo of myself with my brand new (to me, it was actually made in 1978) Puch motorized bike. I had not ridden it until Monday.

It has pedals, it’s just a bicycle....eh, not exactly.

After he kick started and rolled my minty green beauty into the street for me, he gave me a little lesson. Squeeze this for the back brake. Squeeze this for the front brake but always do your back brake first so you don’t fly over the handlebars. Turn this handle to give it gas. Let it go to stop giving it gas.After my horse lesson, during our first kid free moment together since our trip to Arkansas a couple months ago, Chris and I went scooting (I don’t think that’s a technical term, I just like to say I went scooting). I still don’t have my own helmet so I borrowed his, which forced him to wear our son’s bicycle helmet. We were a sight to behold.

Chris went back to get his own bike and once we were both idling in the street he asked if I was ready. Uhhhh, I guess so?

He went a little ahead of me and I followed behind with trepidation. A little gas, oh shit, we’re moving. My feet have yet to find their place on the pedals though so I’m wobbling. This helmet is blocking much more of my visual field than I anticipated and making me feel like a Travis Pastrana bobble head.

I get my bearings and off we go. We cross through a broken fence at the top of our street and are on some back roads I didn’t know existed. Winding roads with lovely views.

I’m getting the hang of applying the gas when I need it and letting off when I don’t. Still haven’t tried the front brake though for fear I’ll flip myself over the bars...I’m a little top heavy with my helmet to begin with and clumsy in general. If anyone is going to flip, it’s me.

Chris comes to a full stop ahead of me and since I’m afraid of my front brake, I squeeze my back brake the whole way and then put my feet on the ground and try to skid to a stop. I didn’t fall, but you can imagine how graceful I looked, bobbling head and all.

Chris gave me a new lesson on how to stop at this point, probably because he feared he was going to have to carry me the two miles back to the house after I wiped out.

We continued our ride and my skills improved as we went. I’m still not good at turning or stopping. It’s going to take a lot more scooting time to feel in control of that bike and that’s ok. No new skill comes immediately.

If I’m going to be the Travis Pastrana of vintage Italian motor bikes then I’m going to need to put in Travis Pastrana time. Nitro Circus didn’t come about after a day of casual riding. It took a lifetime of practice.

As adults we tend to forget how hard learning new things is and how long it’s actually going to take us to learn.

I know it’s going to be years before I’m close to functional in horsemanship. I’m not even able to go catch my horse alone yet. There are 12 year olds at the barn who have skills years beyond mine.

And guess what? That’s ok!

I can’t expect to be whipping around turns on my bike or whipping around barrels on my horse without starting at the bottom and struggling to learn the basics.

Learning is hard. It’s also 100% worth it if you’re willing to have some grit to get through it and some grace with yourself to know that you’re going to suck, for a long time.

Go learn something brand new, and stick it out. Don’t give up when it’s hard. It’s all going to be hard. But it’ll definitely be worth it.

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