How easy is it to learn to Ride

For discussions within the Cycle Training profession.
JMK
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Joined: 3 Mar 2010, 4:55pm

How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby JMK » 3 Mar 2010, 7:33pm

OK just joined this - hopefully for the right reasons. Having been a car owner/driver for 24 years I am being dragged into riding a bike for a charity Chester - Liverpool run in July

Having said yes I really want to curse myself, having never gotten round to riding properly before. I did have a bike a few years ago but it just did not fit me and after a few goes I gave it away

Basically I am looking for advice/help and training (for the embarrassed :oops: ). I have bought a new bike (having been to a cycle shop and asking to be sized up first). The bike isn't exactly the most expensive one (a falcon) is grey and umm... has loads of gears

I have put the bike in the back of a car, found a quiet parking lot and practiced. My balance isn't as bad as I first thought (I can freewheel but balance does need work) I am having issues getting my feet on and pedalling. I find the positioning awful - feet are tip toe and the pedals themselves seem ok but my feet keep falling off. The bike shop says I'm sitting too low - If I sit any higher my feet will not touch the ground.

I know this is a serious cycle forum and I may seem a bit of a clown but 1. Any advice would be welcome and 2. Any good cycle trainers in the North West - I need you.

Ideally I would like to be able to ride the thing ASAP. I really don't fancy free wheeling 25 - 30 miles :shock:

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fraxinus
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby fraxinus » 3 Mar 2010, 9:34pm

Regarding saddle height as a rule of thumb your leg should be just slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke but perhaps a bit lower for a learner. A good way to get a child used to balancing a bike is to take off the pedals and get them to use it like a hobby horse I suppose it would work with an adult too. I have wondered how difficult it would be to ride a bike if I had not learnt as a child.I have heard of classes for adults in this position. You could try this post in "does any one know" if you do not get the required response. Sorry I can't be more help. I think keep practising once it clicks you will be fine.
So many bike rides so little time

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Colin63
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Colin63 » 3 Mar 2010, 9:54pm

Where in the north west are you?

JMK
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby JMK » 3 Mar 2010, 10:10pm

Warrington - though have hatchback, bike will fit in and will travel.

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Colin63
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Colin63 » 4 Mar 2010, 10:26am

JMK wrote:I have put the bike in the back of a car, found a quiet parking lot and practiced. My balance isn't as bad as I first thought (I can freewheel but balance does need work) I am having issues getting my feet on and pedalling. I find the positioning awful - feet are tip toe and the pedals themselves seem ok but my feet keep falling off. The bike shop says I'm sitting too low - If I sit any higher my feet will not touch the ground.


I don't think that you need to consider driving miles to find someone to guide you. The above comments remind me very much of how my wife reacted to her first several attempts at riding her bike. I'l relate those experiences and maybe it'll give you some food for thought. When we went for our first learning day she was terrified that she wouldn't be able to balance the bike and spent a lot of time trying to set off, wobbling a bit and stopping. With that fear she was also afraid of getting pedalling as she was sure that there was a risk that she'd fall and not reach the ground with her feet. Something to understand about cycling is that the bike doesn't stay upright because of the rider balancing the bike. Bikes balance themselves due to the forces exerted by the spinning wheels (think of the scene in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid when Paul Newman shoves his bike down a hill and it rolls down hill on it's own). So your first goal can be to get the bike moving fast enough for you to be able to feel the bike doing that for you. The problem my wife had was due to not getting the bike moving fast enough and trying to balance it before having built up enough speed. The speed you need for this self balancing is remarkably low, but as a new cyclist it may take time for you to get the feel for it. If you have already begun freewheeling you're well on the way. So get back to the car park and practice by setting off with a good push on the pedal and let the bike carry you. If you can do this on a hill all the better as it'll go further and you'll become more comfortable with just how secure a moving bike is. When you push off don't try to do it while sitting on the saddle, straddle the top tube and lift yourself onto the saddle as the bike moves off, using the pedal that you've just pushed down to lift yourself on. This will ensure that you feel stable at the point of setting off. Setting off and letting the bike do the balancing is the biggest hurdle in learning to ride. Don't worry about the pedalling at all.
With regards to the gears while you're at this learning stage, just set the bike up with a gear that will get the bike moving when you put your weight on the pedal as you start off, put the chain on the middle ring at the front and a large to medium cog at the back. This should give you the push off speed and be a good sized gear for when you're ready to start pedalling.
As you become more confident that the bike isn't going to fall over and leave you an embarrassed heap have a go at pedalling to keep the bike rolling a little further.
Another fear that my wife had was not being able to stop and putting her feet down. For this just do the opposite to how you started off. As you slow down and start to apply the brakes ease yourself off the front of the saddle with your weight carried by the pedals and handlebars and you'll be able to comfortably put a foot on the ground.
Allow yourself as much time as it takes to get these basics right. It may be frustrating and perhaps embarrassing, but there will come a moment when you 'go for it', and will find yourself riding properly around the car park. The biggest joy in learning to ride is that the leap from stuttering starts to riding happens very quickly as you suddenly feel yourself in control. Ally rode around the car park whooping with happiness after spending a few hours of getting frustrated and feeling incompetent.
With regards the positioning. You don't need to be able to touch the ground with your feet when on the saddle, what you need is a saddle position which enables a comfortable (and healthy) pedalling motion. As Fraxinus says, this is usually explained as being where your leg is slightly bent on the bottom stroke.

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Velocio
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Velocio » 12 Mar 2010, 7:58pm

...after a break of some 25 years since cycling as a child ...I took up cycling again in my late 30s ...and found the first 3 months of regular cycling the hardest ...mainly 'hardening' my rear end from hours in the saddle ...once I'd beaten the saddle sores ...cycling became most enjoyable

:)
...ever cycle ...ever CTC

rualexander
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby rualexander » 12 Mar 2010, 8:24pm

Colin63 wrote:[ Bikes balance themselves due to the forces exerted by the spinning wheels

This is not actually true, the gyroscopic effect of spinning bike wheels is minimal, particularly at speeds at which we generally cycle. Balance is about the rider inputting small steering corrections (largely subconsciously), plus the castor effect keeping the bike going in the direction it is pointed.
CTC website has a section on training, with lists of instructors arranged by geographical region.
http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5116
Here's the list of instructors for the North West of England : http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4753

EvilEllie

Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby EvilEllie » 21 May 2010, 4:36pm

I learnt to ride a bike as an adult, taught by my boyfriend in a car park about 7 years ago. I found that starting off with the seat quite low was a good way to get more confident since it removed the worry that on stopping I would just fall over sideways, and enabled me to stop if I was wobbling madly. I then gradually ramped the seat up as I gained confidence. It might be that you should begin with the seat at the correct height, and try to get used to it from the start, but I just wasn't confident enough for that. I think the guy in the bike shop does not remember learning to ride when he tells you the seat is too low, so he's just telling you the optimum seat height for someone who is already alright on a bike!

I got going pretty quickly, I think we had two sessions just in the car park, then I followed him round gradually increasing blocks near where we live. After that I used to take my bike in my car half way to work, park up, and then cycle along a woodland cycle path the rest of the way (I was lucky in work location then). That was good as there was rarely anyone else using the path to be embarrassed in front of, and it got me lots of practice somewhere I could wobble in isolation. Maybe there's a similar path you can use for a bit of training.

I think it's probably easier to learn as an adult as you have learnt a bit better how to balance yourself in other situations than when you're a wobbly kid still skinning their knees from falling over on a regular basis :? At least that's what I told myself...

Having someone to follow is quite reassuring so maybe you can find a friend. I guess proper training would be good, but I can't comment as I've not had any. I didn't realise that bicycle training for adults even existed, I was quite embarrassed about my adult inability to ride a bike, and thought I was a complete abnormality :oops:

Best of luck :D

Vorpal
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Vorpal » 22 May 2010, 10:53pm

Get a copy of Cyclecraft by John Franklin. It's recommended reading for Bikeability training, anyway. And you may be able to get what you need from the book and some work & practice.

You could also try some cycling clubs. They should give you opportunities to ride with others, get some training in, and advice form experienced cyclists. Most clubs will let you come along on a few rides before asking you to join.

Don't be put off taking a course or getting training, if you can. That may well be the fastest way to gain confidence cycling, and you are likely to learn something from it, regardless. There are plenty of trainers, however, who aren't experienced cyclists. Get recommendations from others. Again, a local club can be a good resource, even if you don't join.

Finally, enjoy yourself. I've seen new/returning cyclists complete a 150 mile, two day charity ride within a few weeks of buying a bike. The worst you're likely to get out of it is saddle sore.

Good luck!
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Steady rider
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Steady rider » 12 Sep 2010, 9:01pm

Does a scooter move like a bike?
if so why not make sure you could ride a scooter first, would a child who has a scooter first, be able to ride a bike easier than a child who goes straight to riding a bike? Adult as well I suppose.
Any research? I did fall off my scooter before having a bike, many years ago.
Do cyclists in Holland fall off less due to gaining a good sence of balance as children being carried around on bikes? and riding at a young age.

Bikecat
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Re: How easy is it to learn to Ride

Postby Bikecat » 18 Sep 2010, 8:29pm

The simplest way to learn to ride a bike is to know one fact. That cyclists balance by turning the handlebars towards the lean of the bike. This can often feel counterintuitive but it is how we cyclists balance. I teach about 3 beginners a week and most of them learn to balance within 30 minutes.
I learned how to do this on my training course!
If you contact Cycling Solutions in Liverpool, they will put you in touch with an instructor who can teach you very quickly and simply.
Good luck!