We All Fall Down?
[image via Nationaal Archief]
Girl on Roadbike: So you've never worn clipless shoes?
GOR: Oh you should just do it! It's really easy, honest.
GOR: Oh totally!
Me: So how did you get the hang of it?
GOR: Well, I fell down all the time at first!
Me: [horrified silence]
GOR: Yeah, it was pretty funny. I'd come to a stop and just go plop!
Me: Oh my God...
GOR: But don't worry, after a couple of weeks you'll be fine!
You see, that right there is what separates me from "normal people" who've grown up playing sports: I see being guaranteed to fall and being told not to worry as completely incompatible notions.
Hopefully I won't jinx myself by writing this here, but I've never fallen off my bike as an adult. When I tell this to experienced cyclists, their reaction is usually "Oh, that's not good. You need to get used to falling." The idea being that, if I have no concept of falling - and more importantly, of how to fall "correctly" - then when it actually happens (the use of "when" instead of "if" is in itself alarming), it's going to be bad. I've been given advice such as to go out and practice falling on some grass, but honestly I cannot imagine doing that unless someone holds a gun to my head... and even then, I'd probably be trying to talk my way out of it!
What exactly scares me about falling I don't know. I don't have a fear of pain, so that's not it (I sat though an emergency root canal without novocaine yesterday, which was honestly not so bad!). Maybe I have a strong self-preservation instinct, and the physical sensation of the fall triggers it. Either way, when I am told that a specific behaviour - like learning to ride clipless - is pretty much guaranteed to make me fall multiple times, I am highly motivated to avoid that behaviour.
How do you feel about the idea of falling off your bike? Is it something you view as an inherent part of cycling (be it for sport, recreation or transportation), or do you believe that it can (and should) be avoided?