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May 1, 2011

'Words Enduring'

May 01, 2011|By Arin L. Shane
  • "Words Enduring"
"Words Enduring" (Ken Min )

My brother has the coolest bike in the world. If I had a dime for every time someone said how nice his bike was, I'd have plenty of money. I've always wanted to ride it but I don't know how. So I thought to myself, "What can I do to teach myself?" Well, what I do best; video games, of course. I started playing all these video games with bikes in them so I could learn, but even though I tried again, I still fell off the bike.

I just figured, like my mom said, you just can't learn how to ride a bike until you're older.

I've realized one thing: I haven't tried actually sitting on a bike and practicing.. The day has finally come where I can ride the bike and learn the secrets of mastering this fun sport.

My parents are out to the local market and won't be back for another hour or two. My brother, John, being the kind older brother that he is, has allowed me to practice riding his bike.

At the noon hour we walk to a nearby parking lot that's always empty. I start to mount the bike, when John says, "Aren't you forgetting something?"

"I don't think so," I say. But then it dawns on me. "I need a helmet!"

"Right," he says, handing me his helmet.

Then he adjusts the seat to my size. He's a lot taller than I am because he's 13 and I'm 10. After I seat myself comfortably on the bike, John begins to give me instructions on how to ride it.

"It's pretty easy. Everyone's kind of born with the ability to ride a bike. The first few minutes are the hardest, but then it's super easy after that. Fun, too. All you have to do is keep pedaling and you won't fall."

The instructions seem pretty clear. I grip the handles tightly and give a strong push on the pedals and the bike moves forward. The faster I pedal, the more I'm able to balance myself and the more fun it is to ride and have the wind fly past me. Just a minute or two after starting, I suddenly lose my balance and fall to the ground, the bike sliding slowly down the asphalt, sparks following in its wake. My brother runs to me and helps me to my feet.

"I'm telling you, I just can't ride that bike. Mom was right; bikes are for older kids."

"I could ride a bike when I was 10 and so can you. Sure, in the beginning you might have problems, but once you start riding, you'll be really good at it. Let me show you," he says and walks to his bike and picks it up off the ground. He hops onto the seat and rides really fast up and down the lot, his bike pushing away the air, looking like some magnificent ship cutting through shimmering blue waves. He does tricks of all sorts and pedals in different ways; some making his bike go fast, some slow. One thing's for sure, he definitely knows, really well, how to ride his bike.

Perhaps some of that skill will rub off on me. Perhaps the skill comes with age, as Mother says, but I think I'll get better with practice.

John eases up next to me and insists that I try riding again. He added, "Remember, falling down isn't important. What's important is getting up."

With some tips and confidence, I begin to pedal and fly through the lot, going farther than I did before. Then I start pedaling fast, really fast; so fast that I let go of the handle bars, the bike going so fast that it goes straight.

My brother starts clapping for me, and I start doing the same; clapping my way to him, realizing that the few words of advice from my brother went a long way, as all words will in life.

For more tips on safely riding a bicycle, visit www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/KidsandBikeSafetyWeb/.

Special thanks to Ken Min for his illustration. To see more of his work, visit kenminart.com

For more Kids' Reading Room visit latimes.com/kids.

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