Bike riding, you never forget

I said, “Let’s walk around the block each morning.”
She came into my bedroom next morning and said, “Okay, Mom, we’re going for a bike ride.”
“Bike ride!? What am I going to ride?” My bike has needed fixing for 13 years.
“One of the guys’ bikes.”
I looked at her dubiously, the guys have ten-speed bikes with hand brakes. All I have ever ridden were coaster bikes where I pedaled backwards to brake.
Wheeling the 10-speed out to the drive, I asked her, “What if I can’t remember how to ride a bike?”
“Awww, c’mon, Mom, nobody forgets how to ride a bike.”
“What if I need to slow down?”
She gave an exasperated sigh, “Those grips are the hand brakes. Squeeze them if you want to slow down.”
I put one foot tentatively over the bar of my tall son’s bike.
“It’s too high,” I whined as I straddled it on tiptoes.
“Mom if your feet can still touch the ground, you aren’t too high.”
Taking a deep breath, I left the safety of terra-firma and placed a foot on a pedal and pushed. The bike moved forward. Sheer self-defense triggered my memory on how to balance a bike while pedaling.
“See, Mom, I told you no one ever forgets how to ride a bike.”
Every time I touched the brakes, even gently, I had visions of my body flopping over the handle bars down to the skin-tearing asphalt road below.
As we approached the first hill, darling daughter drilled me, “When you go down this ill, pedal really fast so you keep up your speed for going up the next one.”
Panic hit me. Don’t brake?! Go faster than I was? I gently squeezed the hand brakes, letting go as soon as I felt my antique body surging forward to the handle bars.
My daughter’s bike edged up close.
“Move back. I don’t want you to run into me.”
Coasting down the hill, I panicked at the speed and I braked gently.
I was pedaling furiously up the hill, gasping for breath when she called, “Change gears, mom.”
I tried.
She slowed down and rode beside me, “I think you are between gears. Put it back the way it was.”
When I finally reached the top, she turned, “See that wasn’t so bad now was it?”
I just looked at her and fiddled with the gears trying to figure out how to change them before the next hill. From the top of the next hill, I hesitated: a pedestrian threatened my path. I did not want to hit her. Nor did I want to brake so fast that I crashed. Holding my breath, I eased off the seat a bit, steered away from that sensible walker and zoomed down the gentle slope. As I gulped down my fears, I wondered at those faint memories of a childhood when I enjoyed the high hills.
At last we returned to our driveway. She dared smile, “Wasn’t that great fun?”
I pried my fingers off the grips and eased my tense body off the bike. “I walk like a bow-legged cowboy. I am sore where I sit and my fingers are frozen in a death grip.”
She wasn’t listening, “Tomorrow. Let’s go further.”
Bracing myself against the walls, I balanced my way back to bed. “Do it again? Tomorrow? Sure, why not.”