A fascination you had as a child – the gears, how each twist of the numbered reel, one flick of the lever, could transform the experience of riding a bike. Beaming, you would be, as the stabilisers were unscrewed and taken off. You were ready, you could pedal, empowered with learnt balance: you had become capable of taking routes on out and about.
Little did you know, though, how obstacles ramp your life up to the highest of gears, how the extent to which you need to pedal can be tough.
Wind hurls its capricious catcalls at you, or are they howls of anguish, and your protruding knuckles redden with the effort of holding off the beatings of blustery billows vying to sweep chills up your arms.
A leaf, a branch, tag along in the spires of your wheel, click-clacking, mocking, jeering while you keep riding trying to dislodge them along your determined track.
Your bell may lose its voice, hoarse and helpless as you mistakenly prod it, keeping you in cruel suspension behind crowds unaware of your precarious momentum.
Teetering on the rubber rinds spinning gripping to the ground, your stomach might lurch wet like when you flop your palm on top of pool water. You might fear. You might fear your next direction quite a lot. The kind of fear which grabs you at the elbows from behind and threads a bauble-brick through and round your funny bones: a sentencing to shaking hands.
Through it all, though, you can pedal. Smiling sadly fondly as you remember childhood ecstasy at having got the balance right. This is the balance that is going to keep you up, now. This is how you will keep going on for life.
While you are doing just that, keeping on going, keeping on going, there may be someone watching you there from the pavement. Their facial expression might be one in between a smile and a nod: their graceful observatory hurrah for you. The encouraging bounce stored in bent knees before a leap. “You were unsteady on it, wavering, here there and everywhere, almost falling off. Look at you now, though. Keep pedalling! You’re doing a marvellous job.” If rain shimmers on wet concrete then their words chime with the breeze. You may not have known how difficult the journey onwards would be, back then as a youngster, but my were your feet ready to be found to pedal through whatever knocks you next.
Photography: Galina Mead