Irene A Waters of Nightmares (writer and memoirist) of Reflections and Nightmares blog hosts a monthly Times past post challenge.

Her guidelines are as follows:

Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.

This month, Irene has selected bicycles as her topic.

Bicycles and me, a bad combination

I can clearly remember my first time on a two-wheeler bicycle. My Dad, young and inexperienced with children at the time of my first lesson, pushed me, seated on my new bicycle, to the top of a long sloping road and gave me a push. I naturally sailed down the hill, gaining speed as I went, and topped over at the bottom grazing, well, just about everything. It was not a happy introduction to riding a bicycle and I didn’t touch my bicycle again for quite some time.

I finally learned how to cycle at school. In those days in South Africa the school used to take us to a miniature town cycling track which was built for the specific purpose of teaching school children how to cycle. The tracks had solid and intermittent white lines, stop streets, miniature traffic lights and all sorts of other road signs to teach children the rules of the road at the same time as they learned to ride their bicycles. There were no hard hats or other safety requirements in the 1980’s in South Africa.

I became an accomplished cyclist and when my family moved to George in the Western Cape when I was ten years old, my sister and I used to cycle to school. I had a BMX bicycle which was very trendy, if impractical, at the time. It had no basket and we had to ride with our school satchels on our backs. I was a very wild little girl and used to show off on my BMX in front of the boys. One afternoon, on the way home from school, I fell off my bicycle right in front of an on-coming car. The driver was hopping mad and shouted at me through her window. I was shocked and behaved myself well for a few weeks afterwards.

During my second year of University, I was re-introduced to bicycles by a friend of mine. We decided cycling was a great way to loose weight and we started riding together, both on the road and on stationary bicycles at our local gym. I became quite obsessed with cycling as a form of exercise and so turned to spinning, an extreme form of stationary cycling to music, at the gym. The adrenaline high I achieved through spinning soon had me taking an examination to become an instructor at the gym. By the time I met my husband, during my first year of articles at KPMG, I was teaching up to ten classes a week. Terence also wanted to keep fit and we started cycling together. We bought racing bikes and were soon cycling over 100 kilometers on a Saturday morning. We participated in a few road races and traveled to Cape Town a few times to cycle the Argus Cycle Race. Exercise was my life at that time and I arranged everything else, including work and social engagements, around it. Who knows how it would have ended if I hadn’t had a very bad accident.

Terence and I went out cycling one Saturday morning. In retrospect, we were a bit stupid with our choice of route, coming back into town on a very busy morning at about 11 A.M. I was lagging behind Terence as I had been messing with my water bottle when the traffic light just ahead of me turned orange. I speed up and raced across the intersection. The driver of an approaching car saw the light change to orange. He was in a hurry to get to the bank before it closed and he went through the traffic light, in anticipation of its turning green for him. He was in the very outside lane and hit the front wheel of my bicycle which swung around and I crashed into the side of his car. I must point out that the traffic light was still red for him at the time. The driver was horrified and took us both to the local hospital which was close to the site of the accident.

I had x-rays and was soon told that I had fractured my pelvic bone on the left hand side in three places. A fractured pelvic bone is not a lot of fun. They do not put you in a cast, they put you flat on your back in bed. The pain is bad. I spent one week in hospital and another three weeks lying on my back in bed at home. This was followed by another two weeks on two crutches. Have you ever had to get around on crutches? It is so frustrating, you can’t carry anything. If you make yourself tea, you have to stand in the kitchen and drink it. Finally, after six weeks, I was allowed to return to work on a half day basis for another two weeks and after eight weeks I was more or less back to normal. Except I wasn’t back to normal. The accident resulted in a shift in my pelvis and the lack of alignment caused a knee problem that has never entirely healed. I still have to go to physiotherapy for knee pain from time to time. I was also not able to have natural childbirth and both my sons were born by C-section.

I don’t ride a bicycle at all any more and I haven’t encouraged it with my sons. The roads are to busy and to unsafe for children to enjoy this pleasure in the city of Johannesburg.

Do you have a bicycle story to tell? You can join in Irene’s memory posts here:

Have a lovely week.