The handle bar jolts from left to right and from right to left, she skims an oncoming vehicle, and then another. She swerves in the opposite direction in a desperate plea to gain recovery but almost hits the curb.
I run after her, excelling forward like my friend’s life depends on it, which is true. But the quicker I try to run the further away she appears to be. I’m coming Ruchi, I’m coming!
She’s still light years ahead, moving uncontrollably in zigzag motions, unleashing a reign of terror across the streets of Bagan. People stop to stare at this banshee on a bike – will she or won’t she make it? Dust and fear fill my lungs in equal measure. Ruchi is e-biking herself into an early grave and I’m on the verge of blacking out. White spots and stars are going to appear any second now. You don’t realise how unfit you are until you’re required to use your body beyond its everyday motions and suddenly realise you can’t.
Through sheer luck, or maybe divine intervention, she eventually stops and I manage to catch up with her before floundering at her feet into an over-boiled heap of mess. I don’t know whether to hit or hug her – Surely riding an e-bike isn’t so difficult?
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again!” I shout and splutter, but my mouth is so dry its like spitting feathers. The expression on Ruchi’s face changes, she’s now grinning, that’s when we start laughing. We’re in hysterics a moment later by the side of the road. No wonder female drivers get a bad rep.
We regain our posture and make the decision that I should drive so I assert myself at the front, straighten my back and grip my hands around the handle bars. Ruchi then kicks her leg over the seat and I tell her to hold onto my waist tight. I’m scared she’ll blow off the back seat so I repeat the words, “hold tight”.
I turn the handle bar and we jolt forward. It wasn’t smooth but at least it was forward. Ruchi lets out a little yelp but I feel confident that I’ll pick it up easily. I turn down on the handle bar again, and once we’re travelling at a steady pace I yank back the handle as far as it will go to travel at full speed.
In the distance we see a temple and that’s what we set our sight toward. We turn onto a dirt track and before I can think about trying to slow down we’re bobbing up and down potholes and tufts of dry grass. I slam down on the brakes but instead of coming to a clean halt, we jerk and stagger around and sort of fall off the bike sideways. We look around to see if we have any spectators. Thankfully we have been spared the embarrassment.
“Maybe we should have got peddle bikes instead” said Ruchi.
“Ain’t that the truth!”
We hover over the bike as it lies horizontally across the ground, and look at it like it’s a piece of incriminating evidence. It’s not like we’re guilty of anything…. yet.
There was nothing we could do but keep practising, we were lumbered with this thing and had to get to grips with it somehow or other, whether we wanted to or not.
As the saying goes, if once you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.
Do you want to try e-biking in Bagan?
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