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Reading Club Intermediate: Taming the Bicycle

bicycle-001«Taming the Bicycle» — новый рассказ нашей ученицы Дарьи Барановой, которая занимается с преподавателем LINGVISTOV.RU и уже скоро точно станет профессиональным писателем коротких историй на английском! Начав с уровня Elementary, Даша доказывает, что, если у вас хорошие учителя и вы приложите максимум усилий, то обязательно добьетесь уверенного и граммотного владения языком, а также огромного словарного запаса! 

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Taming the bicycle.

I had been thinking long and hard and decided that I had enough patience and energy to fulfill my dream. I went and bought a lot of cotton wool, iodine, bandage and adhesive plaster and a bike. I had a company of a bike instructor who would teach me how to control my riding. We came to the back yard and started working.

My bike wasn’t too big it was like a foal - with short pedals and nimble, as a real foal should be. The instructor briefly described its advantages, then sat on his back and rode a little, to show how easy it was. He said that the hardest of all is to learn to come off, so we'd leave it for the end. But he was wrong…To his amazement and joy we found out that he needed to just put me up and stand aside, then I’d get off by myself. I jumped down with incredible speed, despite the complete lack of experience. He was on the right hand, he pushed the bike - and we all found ourselves on the ground: he ended up on the new flowers bed under a maple tree, then there was I, lying atop, and the bike.

bicycle-003We checked up the mechanism - it had not been damaged. It was incredible. However, the instructor assured me that it was the truth; and indeed, inspection confirmed his words. From this I had to, among other things, understand what an amazingly strong thing I had managed to acquire. We treated the bruises and wounds with iodine and green paint and started again. The instructor at this time was on the left hand, but I fell to the left, so the result was the same. The bike remained unharmed. Once again, we bandaged injuries and started again. At this time, the instructor took a safe position behind the bike, but I don’t know how, again, I fell down on him.

He could not hide his delight, and said it was really supernatural: there was not a scratch on the bicycle. It was just us who had all the injuries and it was amazing, but the instructor said that when I understood the structure of the bike, then I’d understand that only the dynamite might break it. Then he limped, and took his place, and we started again. At this time, the instructor was ahead. We started much faster, immediately hit a brick; I flew over the handlebars and landed head down on the instructor’s back, and then I saw the machine fluttering in the air and covering me from the sun. That’s good that it had fallen on us: the bike wasn’t broken.

Five days later, I got up and was taken to the hospital to visit the instructor; it turned out that he got better. Within a week, I was quite healthy. This was because I had always been cautious and had fallen on something soft. Some recommend a feather bed, and in my opinion - an instructor is much more convenient.

bicycle-004Finally, the instructor was discharged from the hospital and brought four assistants with him. This was a good idea. Four of them held my elegant vehicle while I was climbing on the saddle, and then they built a column and were marching on both sides, and the instructor was pushing me behind; the whole team participated in the final.

The trajectory of my movement was more like an “eight” -not a straight line. To sit erectly I was required to do a lot and it was always something, which did not coincide with my skills and habits. In other words, when something was required of me, my nature, habits and upbringing made ??me do it in a known manner, but some laws of natureunknown to me demanded, it turned out, quite the contrary things. Here I had the opportunity to notice that my body had not grown up properly. It was steeped in ignorance and did not know anything that could be useful for it. For example, if it happened to fall right, I followed quite a natural impulse, wrapped steering wheel to the left and thus violated the law of nature.

The law required the opposite: the front wheel must be turned in the direction in which you fall. When you hear that, it is difficult to believe. And it is not only difficult – it is impossible, it contradicts all your ideas so much. And it’s much more difficult to do it if you believe that it is necessary. Neither faith nor knowledge, nor the most convincing proofs can help you; first, it is simply impossible to force yourself to work in a new way. Here is the mind in the foreground: it convinces the body to give up old habits and learn new ones.

When you learned to keep the bike in balance, move it forward and turn in opposite directions, you need to move on to the next task – to sit on it. Here's how: you ride a bike with your right foot, keep your left foot at the pedals and grasp steering wheel with both hands. When you hear the order, put your left foot on the pedal and the right one aimlessly and indefinitely hangs in the air; bore down with your stomach onto the seat and fall – maybe to the right, maybe, to the left, but certainly fall. Get up - and start the same thing again. And do this time after time, again and again.

However you soon stop paying attention to injuries and gradually get used to come off with your left or right foot onto the ground with confidence. Having repeated the same thing six times in a row and fallen down six times, you achieve perfection. Next time it is already possible to get on the saddle rather cleverly and stay on it - of course, if you do not ignore the fact that your legs are in the air, and for a while the pedals are left alone; and if you immediately clutch the pedal, then it will be bad. Pretty soon you learn to put feet on the pedals not immediately but a little later - after you learn to stay in the saddle without losing balance. Then one can assume that you have completely mastered the art of riding a bicycle and after a little practice it will be easy, though viewers for the first time should better stay away, if you have nothing against them.

Now it's time to learn to come off by your own; to come off against the wish you will learn at first. That’s very easy to tell you in two or three words how it should be done. Nothing special would be required, and, apparently, this is not difficult; you need to low the left pedal as long as your leg will not be straighten completely, turn the wheel to the left and jump off as you would do if you were on a horse. Of course it sounds easy, but in fact turns out to be difficult. I do not know why, I only know that it is difficult. No matter how hard you try, you climb down not as if from the horse – you fly upside down like from the roof. And everyone’s just laughing at you.

bicycle-005For a whole week I trained every day for an hour and a half. After twelve-hour training course science was finished. They told me that now I can ride a bike by my own, without assistance. Such fast successes may seem incredible. Learning to ride a horse needs a lot more time. However, I could learn myself, without a teacher. But there would be a risk: I am naturally clumsy. The self-taught rarely know everything they should, typically ten times less than they would have learned with the teacher; furthermore, they love to show off and tempt other thoughtless people. Some imagine that the accidents in our lives, or so-called "life experience", bring us some benefit. What I totally disagree with. After all, as the saying goes “fools learn from their mistakes, and the clever learn from the mistakes of others”.

Anyway, get a teacher -it will save you a lot of time and your knees.
I went alone to seek adventure. Actually, it is not necessary to look for them, it is only said so. They find you by themselves. I chose the lonely, quiet lane. I saw that it could be a bit crowded, but I thought that if you use the space well, somehow it would be possible to pass. Of course, it wasn’t so easy to sit on the bike alone: I missed the moral support and the trainer's notes: "Well, correctly now. More boldly. Go ahead, go ahead!" However, the support had nevertheless been found. It was a boy, who was sitting on the fence and biting a large chunk of maple sugar.

He was keenly interested in me and always gave me advice. When I fell for the first time, he said that if he were me, he would certainly put a pillow in front and behind! The second time he told me to learn first on a tricycle. The third time I somehow managed to stay on the saddle and rode on the pavement, wagging clumsily, lurching from side to side and taking up almost the entire street. Looking at my hesitant and slow motion, the boy was filled with contempt and finally shouted:
- Good heavens! He’s rushing at full speed!

Then he climbed down from the fence and walked the boardwalk but not looking at me and sometimes passing disapproving comments. Soon he jumped off the sidewalk and went behind me. The passing girl about ten years old with two thin braids, which were sticking in different directions, laughed and wanted to say something, but the boy said instructively:
- Leave him alone, he is going to the funeral. I know this the street for a long time, and I always thought that it’s smooth as a tablecloth: but, surprisingly I think it turned out that this is not true. A bicycle in the hands of a beginner is incredibly susceptible: it shows the most delicate and subtle changes in the level, it notes a rise where the untrained eye would not notice any; it notes a bias wherever water flows.

bicycle-006The lift was barely noticeable, and I tried my best, puffing and sweating - and yet no matter how much I worked, the bike stopped almost every minute. Then the boy cried:
- Well, well! Rest, no need to hurry. Anyway without you the funeral will not start.
Stones disturbed meterribly. Even the smallest. I got any stone I tried to overtake, and I couldn’t go around it. This is quite natural. For some unknown reason there is something inherent to a donkey in all of us.

Finally I drove up to the corner, and had to turn back. There is nothing better when you have to make a turn the very first time, and the chances of success are almost non-existent. Confidence in your abilities decreases rapidly, there are all sorts of fears, every muscle becomes a stone from the stress and you begin to gently turn the steering wheel. But you're too nervous and the curve of your way quickly turns into twitching zigzags, which are life-threatening. Suddenly the bike turns into a mad horse, climbs onto the pavement, despite all pleas and all efforts to roll on the pavement. Your heart stops, breathing is interrupted, your legs do not obey, and the bike is getting closer and closer to the sidewalk. There comes a decisive moment, the last opportunity to be saved from collision. Of course, all instructions fly out of your head, and you turn the wheel from the boardwalk when you had to turn to the boardwalk, and as a result of this terrible mistake you fall down. This really is my happiness: I experienced all that myself. I got out from the unscathed bike and sat on the pavement to count bruises. Five days later, I progressed so much that the boy could not overtake me. He had to climb back on the fence and watch how I fall from a distance.

There were a few low stone steps at one end of the street. Even after I learned how to turn well, I was so afraid of these steps, and always hit them. I probably suffered most because of them, not to mention dogs. I have heard that even first-class athletes aren’t able to run over the dog: it always automatically dodges out of your way. Perhaps this is true; but I think they cannot run over the dog just because they are trying very hard to. I was not trying to run over the dog. However, all the dogs that I have met fell under my bike. If you try to run over the dog, it would be able to dodge, but if you want to go round it, a dog fails to understand your good intentions correctly and bounces in the wrong direction. It always happened to me. I ran over all the dogs that came to watch me cycling. They liked to look at me, because something that would be interesting for dogs rarely happened in our neighborhood. I spent a lot of time learning to go around a dog, but in the end I learnt even this.
Now I go everywhere I want, and someday I’ll catch this boy and bring him down if he does not improve. Buy a bike! You will not regret it, of course if you stay alive.bicycle-007