Learning to Ride a Bike
Full confession—I didn’t forget how to ride a bicycle, but if you handed me one, I couldn’t ride it. I’d tried a few years ago for the first time since childhood, but you forget how scary it can be to take both feet off of the ground simultaneously in anticipation of moving forward. And then once moving, to let go of the handle with one hand, or to look anywhere but straight ahead. I’d tried doing this in Greenpoint and found that even on the dead-end streets by the river, I was still getting interrupted by pedestrians and cars. Hellish.
All of that being said, I hate that I don’t ride a bike. I see all of my friends going from point A to point B so quickly, and instead I am walking, like a sucker.
I was sharing this frustration with my friend in Tübingen, specifically related to how everybody was telling me I will need to ride a bike in Amsterdam (my next stop), and she said, “Oh, I have an extra bike, and I give bike tours around Tübingen. I can take you out.” What luck!
Something to note for those learning to ride—it’s difficult to start and stop with the seat at the proper height, so it helps to lower it when starting out. That said, it’s more comfortable to actually ride with the seat higher, so you’ll want to raise it after getting used to mounting/dismounting. I was also using a men’s bike which means lifting your leg higher—and it also means you really want to slow down for a stop lest you fall forward off your seat. Ouch!
We left from her place in the western part of town and started on a road that had very few cars. Rather quickly (perhaps after a half-mile) we entered a path that took us into the fields of the country. It was idyllic. We crossed over the little Ammer River on a wooden bridge and passed families walking with dogs or riding bicycles.
Our ride was in a valley and my friend was pointing out a church and farm to the left that had very good food (Farm Schwärzloch) and told me about the wines at the vineyards on the hills to our right. We spoke in French (she is French and not as comfortable speaking in English) which was great practice for me, especially for words that don’t come up often in life, and she taught me helpful new words like brakes (les freins).
The route turned and we crossed over one set of train tracks laying next to a two-story house with a watermill and two horses outside. Further down the path a family was walking its pony onto the field. High above us, perched on the peak of a hill, was the Wurmlinger Kapelle (pictured above), a very little church from which there is a terrific view, she said.
We rode 5K to a little town called Unterjesingen and then turned back. It was probably the most pleasant way to get over one’s fears of riding imaginable.