Wednesday, May 28, 2008

'There's Mommy, riding a bike'

This article appeared in the Toronto Star on Monday and I just had to share it. Tatiana Kachira, a good friend of mine, is one of the best CAN-BIKE cycling instructors in Toronto.

Interested in learning how to ride? Contact her at

'There's Mommy, riding a bike'

Class for adults helps ease woman onto the seat of a bicycle and into fulfilment of a long-held dream
May 26, 2008 04:30 AM
Daniel Dale
Staff Reporter

Thirty-seven years after this race started, Grace Ramos stood, holding a video camera, at what her mother called "the finish line."

In Ecuador, men told a teenage Enma Ramos in the 1960s, girls couldn't ride bicycles: they'd lose their virginity. So Ramos didn't – until, one day at 16, she waited until her brother left the house, then hustled his bike onto the street.

She ended up in a ditch. Her father sold the bike. That was that.

Until Saturday.

After Ramos, 53, immigrated to Toronto in 1985, she "cried day and night." But she learned English, got a George Brown diploma and then a job as a food-service supervisor at a hospital, and raised four children as a single mother.

"Now," she said at Trinity Bellwoods Park, her perpetual half-smile fading for a moment, "it's my time." A few years ago, she said, she decided she wanted to do two things before she died: learn to swim and learn to ride a bicycle.

"She's my inspiration," said Grace, 20. "I look to her for everything. It's like, if she can do it, I can do it."

Ramos looked attentively at Tatiana Kachira, the instructor of the city's CAN-BIKE adult class, who stood beside her atop a small grassy incline. Kachira straddled her bike, hopped on, and rolled easily down the slope.

Ramos tried to do the same. She careened left, straight toward a tree. "Oh my God," Grace gasped.

Ramos stopped two metres before impact. Then she turned around, laughing uncontrollably, and smacked herself in the head. "Imagine me! Boom!"

Ramos tried again. This time, she nearly hit two barking dogs.

More attempts: a slight improvement; another near miss of the tree and another "Oh my God"; a slight improvement; the tree once more – and, after Kachira asked her to pedal instead of merely rolling, a near collision with a second tree. "Definitely, I like trees," Ramos said. "I have to live in a treehouse."

Then, finally, progress. Ramos pedalled for 10 seconds, then 15. Grace and her brother Bryan, 17, applauded. But, on her next attempts, Ramos again faltered quickly – after yet another encounter with her nemesis-tree, she gave it a hug – and when Kachira moved her from the slope onto a flat cement path, she lost her balance within seconds.
Ramos smiled. "I believe in myself."

Kachira walked her to the top of a second path, this one sloping. Grace stood at the bottom, near the bend Ramos called the finish line, holding the camera. And, after several more failures, something clicked.

Ramos's pedalling, so uncertain minutes earlier, became confident. She gained speed. Sure enough, 53-year-old Enma Ramos passed her beaming daughter, turned left, and continued around the bend.

She stopped at the end of the path. Grace ran, almost skipping, to give her a hug. Ramos smiled. She raised her arms in triumph – for a moment. Then, slowly but steadily, she headed back up the hill.

Grace followed, smiling, camera on "Record." "There's Mommy," she said quietly. "Riding a bike."


At 12:37 p.m., May 29, 2008, Blogger A. Macdonald said...

What a nice article. =)

At 4:35 p.m., August 20, 2008, Blogger Loren said...

something tells me the blogs have been coming fewer and farther between...

At 3:39 p.m., February 01, 2009, Blogger Miss Canthus said...

Very nice story.

As we grow older we often fall into a rut of only doing things we already know how to do. How wonderful that this woman continues to challenge herself. She is an inspiration to us all!


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