“I have some nice calluses now,” she said.
She has tried to learn how to ride a bike several times. One summer, when she was visiting Russia, her grandfather tried to teach her. She somehow went flying into a field, which “put a damper on any romantic idea I had of biking at a young age,” she said.
Later, when visiting friends in San Francisco, she took a midnight bike ride on the back of a tandem. She liked the feel of it.
When she landed in Minnesota, she made a decision: “I’ve been dancing around this issue long enough.”
She walked into a bike shop and asked where she could learn. They pointed her to SPOKES and, after spending some time there, she signed up because it was “a place that could actually teach me how to ride from start to finish.”
Halfway through her first class, she was pedaling around the blacktop.
“It was empowering, this thing I was gearing myself up to was much easier than I thought it would be,” she said.
Now, she’s planning to build her own bike. Until then, she’ll keep walking.
The moment Vanessa Laven found out she was cancer-free, she made a bucket list:
Buy a house.
Go rock climbing.
Move to a new city.
At the top of the list? Learning how to ride a bike.
“I want to have kids and not have them ask their father about that, because I don’t know the first thing about riding a bike,” said Laven, 29.
Laven grew up in a “rough neighborhood” of New Jersey where bike theft was common. “I always had this feeling as a kid that the troublemaker, obnoxious kids had bikes,” she said.