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Old 04-15-10, 07:24 PM   #1
Standalone 
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helping my spouse get up to speed...

I took my wife along with me into New Haven traffic, largely avoiding sidewalks for the first time. She enjoyed it, but I'm concerned.

I don't think she was aware of things like the box truck that decided to come over into our lane at one intersection, or noticed when and where I took the lane at certain intersections or around debris.

I think one of the missing skills for her was shifting. She was willing to go for it and get out in traffic to go buy a cute new helmet, but I think we need to work on skills before getting out there again. I think she'd appreciate my taking the time to walk her through some stuff.

I can be a bit thick headed in teaching skills that I've known for a long time or ones that I've learned on my own. Any advice on where to look for some sort of a "method" to teach the "theory and practice" of derailleur use?

As a kid, I was fascinated with how a larger gear at the "input" coupled with a smaller gear at the "output" for more revolutions and vice versa. I'm not sure this will necessarily catch my wife's interest in any useful way.

I'd love to get her comfortable enough with shifting for me to fix her up some of the vintage downtube friction shifting bikes I have around.

What other skills should we work on before our next urban venture? How do I teach more advanced road/ traffic awareness and communication-of-intent-to-drivers (body language/ lane placement)?
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Old 04-16-10, 03:53 AM   #2
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Maybe go for a ride in an area with some fluctuating hills and some flats. You could establish a basic cadence, and then have her shift in such a way that she can constantly maintain that cadence. Don't worry about speed, just cadence. I'm sure after doing that a bit she'll start to understand shifting better. Also, emphasise light shifting. Teach her to shift early and softly, so she doesn't bend her derailleur.
As far as awareness in traffic goes, you can teach her a bit, but she's going to have to learn that on her own.
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Old 04-16-10, 08:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
I took my wife along with me into New Haven traffic, largely avoiding sidewalks for the first time. She enjoyed it, but I'm concerned.

I don't think she was aware of things like the box truck that decided to come over into our lane at one intersection, or noticed when and where I took the lane at certain intersections or around debris.

I think one of the missing skills for her was shifting. She was willing to go for it and get out in traffic to go buy a cute new helmet, but I think we need to work on skills before getting out there again. I think she'd appreciate my taking the time to walk her through some stuff.

I can be a bit thick headed in teaching skills that I've known for a long time or ones that I've learned on my own. Any advice on where to look for some sort of a "method" to teach the "theory and practice" of derailleur use?

As a kid, I was fascinated with how a larger gear at the "input" coupled with a smaller gear at the "output" for more revolutions and vice versa. I'm not sure this will necessarily catch my wife's interest in any useful way.

I'd love to get her comfortable enough with shifting for me to fix her up some of the vintage downtube friction shifting bikes I have around.

What other skills should we work on before our next urban venture? How do I teach more advanced road/ traffic awareness and communication-of-intent-to-drivers (body language/ lane placement)?
I know you mean well but seriously, there's no bigger turn-off than being taught "advanced road/ traffic awareness" while you're trying to have a good time riding around the neighborhood. If you like riding with your wife, lay off the lectures so she'll like it too.

Find some written material on safe cycling and give it to her to read or not as she feels necessary but don't push it any further than that.
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Old 04-16-10, 08:51 AM   #4
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Get someone else to teach her. There's nothing worse than being taught by an impatient family member.

If she doesn't mind reading I'd have her read Art of Cycling.
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Old 04-16-10, 09:16 AM   #5
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go to a big parking lot and practice there. Sunday mornings are usually quite and safer - so your next real world "venture" might be then

you might also equip her with flashing strobes front and rear - you too for that matter and don't get the little cheap ones either! I have 2 in the back and 1 in the front and I swear they HELP!
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Old 04-16-10, 09:25 AM   #6
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There are a few pretty good videos online with good tips. I thought I'd bookmarked some but I can't find them now. Perhaps spelunking around YouTube might turn up something. I found a few just now but some of them are kind of stupid.
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Old 04-16-10, 10:06 AM   #7
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Ride behind her so she sets the pace. And then hope she wants to go fast enough to shift gears.
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Old 04-16-10, 12:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by robertv View Post
Maybe go for a ride in an area with some fluctuating hills and some flats. You could establish a basic cadence, and then have her shift in such a way that she can constantly maintain that cadence. Don't worry about speed, just cadence. I'm sure after doing that a bit she'll start to understand shifting better. Also, emphasise light shifting. Teach her to shift early and softly, so she doesn't bend her derailleur.
As far as awareness in traffic goes, you can teach her a bit, but she's going to have to learn that on her own.
Good way to look at it. I think this will help her make sense of how it works.

And thanks for the input, everyone.

I know it's easy to sound like I'm being pushy (husbands often are). I'm specifically trying not to be a cycling nazi or push anything on my wife.

This is the east coast on the I-95 corridor-- just around the neighborhood gets pretty limited. "Advanced awareness" becomes a necessity very quickly around here. Traffic density and intensity is high, and cycling awareness is very low.

She was asking questions on the whole ride and appreciated my feedback. I swear.

She was hit and run and put in the hospital the day we returned from our honeymoon to Queens, so there is a certain amount of fear to get over.

I live practically car free, and our boys will surely be riding with me quite a bit in a few years-- they're in carriers with me now. This puts some pressure on her, but this is not about forcing the issue with anyone, just about finding a way to instill confidence in and share knowledge with my wife, who does love to ride.

We talked about it some last night. Basically she doesn't enjoy having to be all "rar" with the traffic. It diminishes the joy she gets from riding. (makes me even more mad at autocentrism) She just wants to feel like she did as a kid on her bike.

I guess I do too, but when I was a kid I was doing MS150s and regular 40 mile rides all the time...

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Ride behind her so she sets the pace. And then hope she wants to go fast enough to shift gears.
I had this idea too, and offered. She preferred that I lead.
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Old 04-16-10, 05:28 PM   #9
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I know it's easy to sound like I'm being pushy (husbands often are). I'm specifically trying not to be a cycling nazi or push anything on my wife.
Even if you were then the effectiveness of that is questionable. Someone earlier suggested getting outside instruction. Are there any LAB courses in the area?

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She was hit and run and put in the hospital the day we returned from our honeymoon to Queens, so there is a certain amount of fear to get over.
That's pretty brave of her. My wife was doored twice in 4 months even though I had tried to explain that it was safer to ride out and "piss off the cars" than to take the risk of an accidental dooring. I wish I could have communicated the dangers better to her. Luckily it was just cuts and bruises and a natural amount of fear afterwards, but I still wished we had spent more effective time talking about the different risks.

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We talked about it some last night. Basically she doesn't enjoy having to be all "rar" with the traffic. It diminishes the joy she gets from riding. (makes me even more mad at autocentrism)
That is sad and annoying. But I think the anger/adrenaline part of riding in traffic can be diminished once we feel confident that we are doing the right thing.

Hope it works out. My wife rides and has ridden as her sole means of transport ever since we married 13 years ago. We have a 2-year old now and my wife rode right up to the last 2 months of pregnancy. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-10, 06:06 PM   #10
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If your wife is very gung-ho on learning to ride in traffic then by all means continue (and look for local classes, online articles, or books). A possible alternative is a tandem with her as the stoker.
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