Some of my friends have—or since I’m a bit sceptical let me say claim to have—memories from when they were two or three years old. I suppose it’s possible, though with the way my memory work that feels like an unreal occurrence. Most of my memories start when I went to school round the age of six or seven and everything before is just a vague feeling or some blurry image of the curtains of my bedroom or the colour of the kitchen table and that sort of thing.
One very clear exception to that, however, is what I think it probably my first proper memory: learning to ride my bike. Outside the block of flats we lived in, in north London, there was a small green area. Of course, small is the adult me describing it; to the my child self that little park was a veritable wilderness that promised a lifetime of exploration. I played in the park every day after school and rode my bike, unlike the children’s bikes today, round endlessly.
Those were things my parents told me and while I can somewhat recall memories of playing there, I’m inclined to think that those were invented memories, created after hearing stories for years and years from my parents and older siblings.
However, I can vividly remember learning to ride a bike without training wheels. I could not tell you if it took me an afternoon or an entire summer to learn how to balance myself on the bike, but I can distinctly remember how afraid I was of falling off the bike and hurting myself. As much as I wanted to learn to ride a proper bike, I was still living in fear of the pain of hitting the ground. And while I have no idea when exactly—beginning, middle, or end—it was in the learning process I can to this day see the grass and hear my older brother’s voice from behind me as I rode across the grass without falling.
It’s a simple, banal memory that it probably shared by people the world over, but as it’s my earliest I think it’s somehow responsible for why as an adult I became just a cycling nut!