I've been riding bicycles for most of my life. Took a hiatus my first few years of college but I've been pretty consistently commuting or riding recreationally for the past 5 years. Recently my girlfriend has taken an interest in cycling as well. As I understand it she wants to explore the city and surrounding areas by bicycle as well as using riding to spend more time with me.
To this end I've diligently done some sneaky homework and put together a reasonably nice bicycle that should function just fine for her wants. It's a Nishiki Rally, not sure of the year since I'll be darned if I can find a serial number. The bars, brake levers, fenders, seat, tires & tubes and rear wheel were scavenged from a free Free Spirit. New cables and housing, with the rest of the parts being original. Spent most of my free time this week cleaning, lubing and checking the bicycle over to make sure it's safe and strong.
(Front fork distortion is all camera lens.)
Now, she hasn't actually ridden a bicycle since she was a teenager and although she's still very young (30, but I didn't say that ) I can tell she's going to need some work to get to a point where we'll both be comfortable riding on surface streets.
What I've done is removed the front derailleur so she has a 40t up front and a 6-speed 14-28 in back. This ratio should work fine and she won't have to worry about trimming the friction front derailleur.
My plan so far is to spend a few hours on Sunday tooling around the parking lot at one of our areas many empty and unused former big box stores. Practicing mounting/dismounting, looking over the shoulder, signaling and any other recommended bike skills. After that I figured we'd spend a week or two on our local MUPs and then work up to road riding on roads with a bicycle lane or sharrows and then riding on the road.
Just from test rides in the aisle at Wal-Mart the biggest hurdle I'm going to face is getting her to set the seatpost at a height that is appropriate for her. She prefers to be able to place a foot flat on the ground while on the saddle. This, of course, bunches up her knees while pedaling and does not work very well. Any tips? I planned to start low and slowly work up to the correct height as she gets more comfortable.
I'm going to refer her to some websites aimed more towards women like Terry Peloton's blog since it has very good instructional videos. Any other recommendations? Basic bicycle skills would be nice too, things such as removing a wheel, patching and flat and so on. I've found some good youtube videos but if anyone else has experience with this I'd be more than thankful for adivce.
Any advice on setting up the Nishiki is more than welcome as well. I still have a few more days before I present her with the bicycle.
I may be over-thinking this but I'm just concerned for her safety and want her to embrace an activity I find extremely rewarding and enjoyful.