I do not recall riding a bike when I was young. There could have been a tricycle affair when I was just a tot. These were fairly common in the neighborhood I grew up in. But pushing the two-wheeler eluded me as I grew up. There was a lot of physical games to keep us busy but bike riding was not one of them.
When I was in junior primary school I was ran over by a bike just few meters away from our house. My case was not the worse one among my friends, but I still ended up with a tyre spook that pierced through the upper part of my foot and came out next to the ankle. Or I think it went through the ankle and came out near the sole of my foot. I’m not very sure at the moment, but the stiff wire went through a section of my foot.
My mum and some older boys in the neighborhood carried me on their backs to the nearest clinic. There was no time to wait for my dad to come back from the office and pick me up in the family car. Luckily, my mum had returned early from her office. That night I cried incessantly as the wound breathed – I could feel the rise and fall of my heartbeat from it and it hurt so bad.
My close friend at that time and now deceased, late Joseph Mkorongo, – may his departed soul Rest In Peace – had a much worse accident. The bike that hit him was coming down a slope at high speed. When it collided into him, it knocked several teeth out and threw him into a deep concussion. He had to be operated on at the hospital and had to stay away from school for some time. He never fully recovered from the impact of that accident. Poor Jo!
These experiences might be the reason I gave a wide berth on rides. But when I was in Secondary School, my dad decided to buy a bicycle for himself. It looked suspiciously girlish. Instead of having a straight bar at the top, the bar carved down away from the saddle. By this time I was a teenager.
One day I decided to give it a try. The design of the bike made it easier to swing my leg over and across. I gave it my first attempt. I wobbled but kept my eyes looking in front. Well, sort of. My second attempt was better. I somehow steadied my nerves and my balancing improved somewhat. There it was. I was riding a bike. That summer break was all about bike rides and I ventured a little bit further as time went by. One day I went so far away I struggled getting back home. Eventually I got home, excited but scared.
Life went on. Over a decade passed. I don’t know what became of the bike and frankly I don’t even remember dad using it more than five times. Now I was married and had my own home. My beloved mother-in-law is very supportive of my outdoor exploits. One day, after talking about outdoor adventure she decided to buy two bikes: one for me and the other for her first born son and brother to my wife Cathy. He is Alexander but we have always called him Zanda. Zanda and I go back to Secondary School days. We have been friends for a long time.
We got the bikes with great excitement. I don’t recall Zanda ever riding it. But when I wanted to ride mine, a problem appeared. I was overweight and felt like an elephant attempting to balance over a unicycle. Maybe I should borrow a leaf from one. I gave it a try and felt insecure. I reasoned that I needed to lose weight first. So started the journey to cast away the unnecessary extra energy reserves called fat deposits around the tummy.
About a year went by without any tangible results. One day we had to move to a new house, and in an act of charity spurred by the moment, I gave away my gift to our garden boy. That has been about eight years ago. Last year I made friends with a mountain biker lover Alick Bwanali or AKB in short, who takes long rides on country roads and over mountains and valleys. I was impressed by his love of extreme riding.
This year, as I see my weight go down, my love for bikes has returned. I have remembered longingly for my bike that I carelessly gave away. I have remembered the love from Mai Kamwendo, my beloved mother-in-law and her act of kindness. I long to have a bike again. This time I will not give it away. This time I will take long rides with my friend AKB. Cathy, my wife wants to come along. And I see two of my boys are already riding comfortably on their little bikes. The third one is fighting against his nerves but will get there. So maybe not so long from now, I might be blessed to have a family ride.
I should not have given my first bike away. Sorry, mum.