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Bye Bye Bike – The Dream is Over

April 17, 2021

Was it really only last August when I, in my already failing desire to get back to work amidst the sound and fury of whatever was happening on the outside because I had been shielding for seven months by then, bought this absolute beauty of a three-wheeled motorbike?

This pandemic means it is no longer safe for me to use public transport, because of my CLL I have to commute to work and it took two buses, or one bus and a train, to get there.  Alternate travel arrangements were required, and at the time although I was expecting the second lockdown I still wanted to plan for a possible return.  I sought a three-wheeler for extra stability as bouts of chronic pain are not predictable.  I spent many hours researching reviews, website reviews, gathering information and had actually looked at this type of bike six years earlier when the idea first came up.  I bought the Piaggio MP3 as it can be driven on a car licence, which I already had.  However, when it was delivered looking a bit different than the photo (actually an upgrade for the same price) I took one look at it and knew I needed bike lessons.  This gorgeous bike is to be ridden, not driven.

Silver piaggio MP3 bike with two front wheels.  The author standing next to it on the right side, wearing a black padded leather jacket and a black bike helmet with the visor up so my glasses are visible.
my and my bike, at time of writing…

I booked a class that stated it was for beginners and was run by professionals.  It certainly was the latter, but not the former.  We had an hour of road safety and were expected to be riding on the roads by lunchtime.  This was not indicated when I booked the lesson nor was it in the information online about the class.  It may have been set as I was the only beginner there, all the others were retaking their CBT.  It was clear when I walked in they weren’t happy a total noob was there (only woman too, as although I identify as gender fluid, this is not how I am perceived).  I was intimidated, nervous, and being repeatedly told that the use of the handlebars is intuitive.  After a brief “how to turn the bike on”, how to brake and how to turn (apparently, this will be intuitive too, just turn from the waist).  Guess what, neither was intuitive and I was unable to turn the tight circle they had laid out after 20 metres of straight track, and I crashed into the metal fence at 90 degrees, coming off the bike with my left leg under it and ripping the engine off the front of the bike.  Thank goodness I was very slow.

Sky blue three wheeler motorboke with large headlights and a rounded plastic windscreen visible.
not my bike, but same make and model.

This was two hours into the day long lesson.  I was shaking and tearing up, and feeling the onset of great pain, and I felt humiliated. I was told by the course leader to go learn to ride a bicycle first before I came back.

I fully intended to book another course with another provider recommended to me by my friend Worksub (who will know why I’ve called her that but I don’t think she is one of my two readers).  I was not going to let that terrible experience stop me learning.  I’d always wanted to ride a bike, but when my Clone™ was learning at 18, I had only been seizure-free for six months, so by the time I could legally learn to drive I was already living in the Big Smoke away from home at Uni.  I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my 30s and that’s only because family keep moving far away from me (hmmm…).

But time moved on and winter came, which showed me very clearly how my body reacts to the cold and that the idea that I, a person with chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and immunosuppression combined, would be taking an unnecessary and unwise risk to ride a bike through London traffic even for just the three mile each way commute.  I cannot lift the bike if it falls.  I struggle to get it off the kickstand.  The weight of the safety gear I have is significant and could easily trigger pain.  I have to look at these potential problems and work out if there could be a balance or method put in place to enable safe riding.  I would not have know about these specifics if I had not bought the bike, all the safety gear and bike security, and tried a lesson.

This has been a very hard decision to come to, partly because it was a significant expense for which I received a lot of generous help, but mostly because I have always wanted a bike.  My Twinnie™ (aka Clone™) had one, my dad had one, my mum used to steal Clone’s so dad could teach her how to ride), I have friends who love the freedom that a bike or scooter can give them.  It would have given me freedom too, to leave my flat safely during this pandemic, and all the positive thinking and therapeutical practices are not going to stop the feeling that I’ve been inside for fourteen months and it is going to be many more months before I can be truly comfortable in situations where I may even just pass a stranger walking down the street.  Even longer if they aren’t wearing a mask.

A picture of the author wearing a brightly coloured half face-mask with the words "sometimes you have to let dreams go to move onto the next one" written in bold white capital letters imposed on top of the photo.

I have to put the safety of myself and other road users first.  The bike must go and I shall then need to get a small, city-suitable car.  My environmental head is screaming at me, but that is the ableist in me shouting (I’m ingrained with it as much as anyone, despite my disabilities/conditions).  I never wanted to be a two-car household, but m’Sooterkin™ also has to drive as he works in the middle of nowhere.  I cannot for the sake of my health use public transport, I cannot because of my health safely ride a bicycle.  I’m left with the choice of never returning to my job or getting a car.  I’m going to take the purchase decision very slowly this time; I know I am in shielding for at least another two months.  On the plus side, I can already drive whatever I finally get!

The biker dream is not going to happen.  It’s another dream that needs to be laid to rest.  Sometimes dreams are outgrown and all the trying in the world simply isn’t going to work.  I know I’ve made the right decision and I’m choosing to believe that just means the right dream will find me another way.  Or maybe the dream is just being able to get back to work, however I manage to do it.


From → Autobiography

  1. Kate permalink

    Good luck, honey xxx I also did not make it to the road part of my first CBT (their choice but utterly right based on their knowledge and experience). Hope you find the right car for you.

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