“You don’t need to focus on being a has been Kate. You just need to give them the great person that you are,” Brandon said as they walked into the community center with the riding club volunteers who were helping with the program. After everyone was settled in the classroom, Sally nodded as she left, a signal for Kate to start.
“Hello, my name is Kate Connors. I’m going to help you Learn to Ride today. How many of you have never been on a bike before?”
A few kids in the room raised their hands.
“You’ve never been on a bike before?” One of the boys asked, “that’s just dumb.”
“What’s your name?”
“Why do you think it’s dumb that they haven’t been on a bike before?”
“Everyone has been on a bike before.”
“Well, some of these kids haven’t and that’s o.k.”
“Danny, let’s not disrupt the class,” Sally said as she came back in and placed a cardboard box on the table in the front of the room.
The kids started laughing because Danny was getting into trouble. Kate took a deep breath and continued.
“Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up here in Manor City and I’m a former bike racing champion.”
She paused. She wasn’t planning on saying that she was a former racer. She started to feel light headed as she felt her confidence starting to waver.
“And, she’s hoping to show all of you what fun bike riding can be,” Brandon said, a little worried if Kate was going to be able to get through this. “In these boxes, I have bike helmets for you to use. We’ll starting passing them out to you,” Sally said and opened one of the boxes.
Brandon walked over to Sally and helped her pass out helmets. Kate walked over towards the white board. Her hand was shaking as she picked up the marker.
“Why did you stop racing?” a girl in the front row innocently asked.
Kate just stopped in her tracks. Brandon and Sally turned to look at her. She could feel tension in the room through the silence of waiting for her reply. She took another deep breath.
“I got hurt,” Kate said, her voice shaking, “a car hit me while I was crossing the street. It damaged my knee to the point I couldn’t race anymore.”
Kate looked out across the room with all of the eyes staring back at her with curiosity. They were waiting for her to continue talking. She felt a little surge of confidence in the fact that no one was judging her. Her hand stopped shaking and she walked up to the white board and took the cover off of the red marker.
“First, I’d like to cover the rules of the road. If I’d paid a little more attention to them, I’d still be racing.”
Brandon smiled and caught Kate’s eye. She smiled and started drawing streets and signs on the board for the kids to see how to follow the rules. After about twenty minutes, she put the marker down on the tray.
“Do you guys have any questions?
Her question was met with murmurs and feet shuffling.
“O.K. Let’s go ride.”
They all went as a group through the community center and out onto the paved playground. There stood twenty bikes of all different colors.
“Each one of you can grab a bike,” Kate said, “and make sure that your feet can reach the pedals.”
The kids all ran to get a bike. Some of them got on and started riding right away.
“For those of you who feel comfortable riding already, follow Brandon and he’ll take you on a short ride around the park across the street. Jeff and Mark will follow to make sure we keep track of everyone. Those who need additional help can stay here and Sally, Jane and I will get you going.”
About fifteen of the kids went for the ride in the park. Five remained on the playground and Danny was one of them. Kate walked over to him as he sat on the bike that he picked out.
“So, why didn’t you go with the riding group?” Kate asked. “I didn’t want to,” Danny stated. “Do you know how to ride a bike Danny?” “You can’t ride either!” Danny answered very defensively. “I can’t race anymore, but I can still ride. I can help you learn how to ride if you want me to.” “I can’t be taught by a girl,” he replied. “Why not?” “They’re dumb, they don’t know how to do it.” “Wanna bet?” Kate asked as she grabbed her bike from the rack and started to ride it around the playground.
She stopped her bike by Danny. He was looking down at the ground, kicking a rock by the front tire. After the other kids left, Kate spent the rest of the day teaching him how to ride a bike. It not only helped him to learn something new, it helped her to see that she still has a lot to give, even though she wasn’t a champion racer anymore.