Completely inspired by Oh Comely’s article ‘positively educational’ which invites people to share what educational delights they were denied, I decided to write for the very first time about my traumatic experience with The Cycling Proficiency Test. Now I wasn’t denied this.
But I was held back.
This is something as 8-9 year olds we all knew was coming and all got excited about. Our playground where we chased each other round and played skipping games in (even kiss-chase when the boys weren’t being horrible), suddenly became this exciting and technical course that we were actually going to be allowed to ride our very own bikes around.
IN SCHOOL TIME.
The way it was: I followed the test, like everyone. Signalling, turning and riding. I answered the questions in the group situation correctly. I watched a boy in my class called Eugene fall off. I felt bad he probably wasn’t going to pass. The final day came. I was taken aside. I could see my whole class all smiling together.
I WAS THE ONLY ONE NOT TO PASS.
Everyone got a badge and I didn’t.
Including my twin sister in the same class. I looked at this badge for months, adorned on other’s chests. I hated that badge. I hated Eugene for passing. My mum said it was all down to the size of my bike.
The way it is: To begin with I bought a bike. At 22 I paid almost £50 for an old Raleigh bike even though I knew nothing about bikes, or road safety or even liked riding in bad weather, which was usually the case in Manchester. I had a brief spell of riding to the shops. I got beeped at and I couldn’t work out the gears. I gave up and felt the same feeling as my 9 year old self did, like I was the only one who wasn’t getting it right.
However, 2 years later I was lucky my boyfriend started living in Amsterdam. I rode a bike almost every day I was there. It felt right and good and wrong because I was breaking some sort of code or law. I got beeped at for the right reasons (short skirts and bikes don’t really mix). I wouldn’t ever ride a bike in England now and I think how silly and mean the whole thing was at such a young age.
You can even buy the badges as retro items online.
Take that cycling proficiency.
(Big thanks again to Oh Comely for the inspiration – And for stealing their format without asking)