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Thread: I never learned to ride a bike!

  1. #11
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    Stacy,

    Some bikes are easier to ride than others. So try different ones. What you should be looking for in a bike is the feeling that youíre in control of the bike, not the other way around. So get someone who knows bikes to size one to fit you. It doesnít have to be an expensive bike. But it has to fit your body, so that riding it is a pleasure.

    Yes, falling over is going to hurt, and thatís going to happen. In fact, count on it happening. No matter how experienced or accomplished a rider is, crashes and wipeouts are going to happen. Therefore, dress appropriately: helmet, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants with cuffs secured. They wonít prevent the bruising thatís going to happen. But they will cut down on some of the road rash, so that youíre washing less gravel out of the wound.

    Also, if you intend to do your grocery shopping on a bike, think seriously about how youíre going to carry those groceries home. Some people use bike baskets or panniers. Others use just a day pack. Obviously, no matter what cargo system you use, there is a practical limit on how much can be hauled. Therefore, youíll find yourself shopping more often, which isnít a bad thing, especially once you begin to organize your outings so that other errands can be accomplished on the same trip. The net result is that youíre getting out on the bike more often, which means youíre gaining experience, plus getting some exercise, plus saving money from not buying gasoline, plus avoiding one of the chief hassles of a car, finding a parking spot. With a bike, you can roll right up to the front door.

    As several people have suggested, the key to riding a bike is Ďbalanceí, and balance is easier to achieve when thereís sufficient forward momentum. So really, really slow isnít safe. Thatís when falling over happens. What to you want is a nice, steady forward pace where turns and maneuvers can be anticipated and done gracefully. Once that "clicks" for you, which can happen in as little as five minutes, the hard part and the scary part of the learning is over. The rest of the stuff, being truly comfortable on a bike so that moves happen without conscious effort, comes from "time in the saddle".

    Suggestion: Even though grass will cushion a fall, it is very hard to learn to ride on. What you want is a huge, flat surface, wider than an ordinary street, with no one else around. Your local grammar school playground with its typically paved surface is the ideal learning place. It's so big that you can learn to pedal figure eights without crashing into anything. Once you can do that, you're ready for the streets as long as you realize that cars and bikes don't mix well and that you have to stay out of their way no matter if you have the right of way or not. So riding on a street is far different that riding on a playground or a bike path, because defensively skills come into play, not just the mechanics of efficiently pedaling a bike.

    Charlie

  2. #12
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    All that sounds good, except for the paved playgrounds. Unless it's an old, probably urban, playground, it's not paved. Federal safety guidelines prohibit that. Maybe look for a large parking lot, maybe a manufacturing company that's closed for the weekend?

  3. #13
    Senior Member Sad Eyed Lady's Avatar
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    I hope you go on and pursue this - it is not something undoable. (Is there such a word?). And, if you feel like you are going to fall over, just put your feet down. You can stop yourself. Try not to be too scared. And, while confessing about things we don't know how to do into our adult years, I can't swim. As a young teenager I had an experience where I almost drowned once, and ever since then I have been terrified of water.
    "Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in the midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free." Leonard Cohen

  4. #14
    Senior Member pony mom's Avatar
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    I learned to ride on our lawn--I felt like the grass held me in balance. It is a bit harder on grass unless it's short and level, but in some ways easier because you have to pedal. Somehow balance is easier to keep if you're pedaling, I think. If you can find a bike to practice on that has coaster brakes, learn on that. Much easier than trying to coordinate handbrakes.

    This weekend I spent a few hours on a railtrail in a gorgeous part of NJ. Everytime I ride I always marvel at how we can stay balanced on such a silly looking thing, with narrow tires, up and down hills.

    Oh, another thing. Don't think about steering. You don't really turn the handlebars, you sort of just lean. It'll all make sense as you go along.

    Good luck and have fun and remember....you'll only have to learn once!!

  5. #15
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    I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 12 or so, and only rode around one or two summers, then not at all till I was in my early '30s and that was only a couple of years. So I've never had a lot of confidence on a bicycle. So here I am, in my late '60s, and as soon as we can afford it I'm going to get a tricycle. I know there can be many problems with them as well, but I'm doing the research and probably next summer I'll be trying some out.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Selah's Avatar
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    Could you get a bike shop to put training wheels on the bike you eventually get? That's how I learned, and boy, training wheels were a very visible motivation symbol to keep working on my skills to get those wheels off! Having training wheels, even for a little bit, could get you used to braking, dealing with traffic, and so on. By the time you get them off, you'll be flying! Good luck to you...you can learn, and nowadays there is better protective gear available which is also affordable.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by janharker View Post
    All that sounds good, except for the paved playgrounds. Unless it's an old, probably urban, playground, it's not paved. Federal safety guidelines prohibit that. Maybe look for a large parking lot, maybe a manufacturing company that's closed for the weekend?
    Sir,

    Paved playgrounds are more plentiful, and more accessible, than the parking lots of manufacturing facilities. Within walking distance of my house, never mind biking distance, there are four expansive, paved, school playgrounds, four grassed public parks, plus some shopping mall parking lots.

    But grass is a very gnarly surface to ride on. Even in granny gears, it's tough to make progress, and practicing bike riding in parking lots is asking for trouble.

    So my suggestion --and it was just a suggestion that needs to be adapted to the poster's local conditions-- still stands as an excellent way to make a beginning.

    Charlie

  8. #18
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    Let's see: 4 playgrounds, 4 public parks, shopping mall lots. Sounds like you live in an urban area. As I said, you might be able to find paved playgrounds in an urban area. And the fact that there are 4 of them tells me that they have been there for many years. Even Federal safety laws can be grandfathered.

  9. #19
    Senior Member reader99's Avatar
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    Bicycles are like sharks, they have to keep moving or die.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by janharker View Post
    Let's see: 4 playgrounds, 4 public parks, shopping mall lots. Sounds like you live in an urban area. As I said, you might be able to find paved playgrounds in an urban area. And the fact that there are 4 of them tells me that they have been there for many years. Even Federal safety laws can be grandfathered.
    Sir,

    Why do you have such an anti-urban prejudice?

    But you’re absolutely right. I’m lucky enough to live in one of America’s top bike-friendly cities, in fact, the #2 ranked city, which Bicycling Magazine describes this way:

    Innovative programs, from designated bike-only areas at traffic signals to free bike lights, make riding in Portland practical even for new cyclists. http://www.bicycling.com/news/advocacy/2-portland-or

    If you look at the photo, you’ll see the Willamette River and what looks like a bike path along its left side. But the fun path to ride is on the right bank, between the three bridges, the Eastbank Esplanade. However, that isn’t a path someone who hasn’t practiced in a paved, grammar school playground should attempt, because of the heavy flow of traffic from walkers, joggers, and other cyclists.

    But once basic biking skills have been obtained in those paved urban playgrounds, it’s fun to become a part of that weekend parade along the river, enjoying the afternoon. http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/...ction=ViewPark

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