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Old 07-09-08, 09:36 PM   #1
Mikey Likes It
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How Do You Teach a non-riding spouse to ride?

It's been awhile since I posted anything. I haven't ridden much the past couple weeks. The heat is my excuse, although I know that it really isn't that bad. The afternoons and evenings have been averaging in the 90's lately here in Oregons Williamette Valley.

Now to my quandry: My wife is a non-rider. I mean literally she doesn't know how to ride a bike. She was a city girl and never learned. To top things off....she's a bit of a "wennie" and is afraid of bikes, the traffic, and a thousand other things related and not so related to cycling. We're both in our 50's and overweight, not massively but enough. I could stand to lose about 30 -35 pounds and she around 50.

Any suggestions from the cycling collective on how to teach a timid non cyclist to ride?
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Old 07-09-08, 10:04 PM   #2
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There have been a lot of threads on the subject, you might try searching for them. But the big thing is, does she want to learn? If not, nothing you can do will make her learn...you'd just start a war by trying. Her fear of traffic as a beginner is totally legitimate...a barely controlled (or out of control) bike is a disaster when cars are involved. Beginners fall, and falls on pavement hurt, so try to find a place where she can learn on grass.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:10 PM   #3
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There's some basic stuff included in the 'Newbie Rider' sticky atop the page, particularly in posts #4 and #5

For the 50+ 'newbie' rider

You'll also find more discussion in this thread, which DnvrFox mentioned:

Learning to ride as a adult?


Best sequence of events would be:

1. Practice balancing and steering with the seat down and the bike coasting rather than being pedalled.

2. Practice starting and stopping with the seat up in a more appropriate riding position.

3. Then move on to improving riding skills and techniques, and appropriate road use.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:16 PM   #4
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Does she even want to ride a bike?

When I first started again early last year I was intimidated to ride outside the comfy confines of our quiet neighborhood. I forced myself to do it, but I was self-motivated. If I didn't really want to ride a bike or have any desire to go further, I probably wouldn't have left the neighborhood. I've completely overcome that fear (well, 98% of it), but it came from within me and a sincere desire to ride and learn. If your wife doesn't have that, I'm afraid it may be difficult to get her out there.

Encourage her gently, and she may follow.

If not, then maybe there is another activity that she'd be willing to do. Can you take a walk together in the evening? Even just 30 minutes, combined with a small caloric reduction (just eliminating dessert alone), can yield great results. That's how I started on my weight loss journey -- 30 minutes daily easy walking and cutting out the extra junk with occasional treats.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:18 PM   #5
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First off does she WANT to learn. If she does then I've got a method that will let her learn first to steer and then to pedal one step at a time in a way that isn't all that threatening. But you may need to borrow a fairly small framed bike and remove the pedal cranks and maybe the BB for the initial training.

But if she isn't interested and keen on the whole deal then it's likely not going to happen. I've helped three adults learn to ride from scratch and all three worked out just fine.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:21 PM   #6
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Have you tried the ol' "give them a shove" method?
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Old 07-09-08, 10:24 PM   #7
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Here's one idea:
http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-a-Bike
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Old 07-09-08, 10:32 PM   #8
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That link isn't bad but it avoids advice on how to steer the bike when it starts to fall. That'll be a key element in how Mickey's wife responds to all this. She's going to want to know what to do with the handlebars to avoid a face plant.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
+1
Removing the pedals worked wonders with my daughters. With the seat
low enough for the feet to reach the ground, the student has enough
confidence to propel the bike fast enough to learn how to balance it upright.
Highly recomend trying this method.

Note: A thorough lesson on braking should preceed the previously mentioned
exercise.
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Old 07-09-08, 10:53 PM   #10
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Also lacks advice on HOW to fall:

New bike: Do your best to twist in mid-air so that you land on your back with bike held up in the air and free of scratches and dings.
Old bike: Try your hardest to kick the thing away as hard as you can so you can twist and land cat-like!






Pretty good article, though, and seems to have been put together by people who've thought in detail about the teaching and learning process.
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Old 07-09-08, 11:12 PM   #11
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You might try a road 1 course from League of American Bicyclists.
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Old 07-09-08, 11:13 PM   #12
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My advice is "Give it up", and that means trying to teach her. If she wants to learn she will. Fitness can be attained in many ways besides cycling. Don't test her fears of traffic and falls and "a thousand other things". Go for a walk with her every night after dinner (and before breakfast if you can), it's a great way to start a weight loss program

I'm the only skier in a family of 4 siblings. Do I try to get them to learn, now they're in their 50s & 60s? NO. Do I push my kids to go hiking or backpacking with me? NO.

But then I'm a person who hates any confrontational situations with family. Call me a wimp.
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Old 07-09-08, 11:29 PM   #13
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Teaching one's wife can be one of the most challenging events a man ever encounters. I found it better to pay a stranger - tennis instructor, golf, white water kayaking, etc. than to risk the ever present defensiveness of the wife.

Quotes from past experience:

Don't tell me what to do.
Why do you have to use that tone of voice?
You aren't making this any fun.
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Old 07-10-08, 02:24 AM   #14
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After 37 years I've learned that getting a wife to do something she is not keen on is like herding cats. Find something she wants very intensely like Lillian Russells' diamond encrusted fixie. Set it up so that the only way she can get it is by riding.

While my wife could ride I could never get her to ride as much as I do. I ended up learning advance ballroom dancing which was her motivation.
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Old 07-10-08, 03:52 AM   #15
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Let someone else teach her!...................
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Old 07-10-08, 04:10 AM   #16
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I used the "Pedal Magic" method to teach my son, and let some neighbors borrow the video to help teach their children. The basic premise is to teach the new rider how to steer into the side you are leaning into--this is done in a couple of simple exercises. Then you find a big empty parking lot (weekends at business parks are good) and let them get comfortable pedaling without worry too much about steering. My son was riding in a single afternoon.

http://www.pedalmagic.com/

Disclaimer: I have no connection to this person or company. But I recommend it because it worked for me and others I know.
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Old 07-10-08, 06:34 AM   #17
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My wife was 30 before she learned to ride a bicycle. We used the "lower the seat" system and she picked it up in an afternoon.

She owns a single bike, but she never rides it. She probably rides 1,000 miles or so per year with me on our tandem. She enjoys that.
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Old 07-10-08, 06:45 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Let someone else teach her!...................
+1 I wouldn't even consider doing it.

I'm especially concerned since you seem to hold a view of her that could be a potential problem at some point. If I EVER attempted to teach my wife something while thinking she was a "weenie", I'd be sleeping with the dog. My wife picks up on almost any small or large attitude toward her that I might have.
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Old 07-10-08, 06:49 AM   #19
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Well, you've got a bunch of answers...main thing does she want to, if that is not the case, I hope you like something she wants to do...
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Old 07-10-08, 07:00 AM   #20
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Two other suggestions I haven't seen here yet:

1. get her a kickbike a.k.a. scooter, for learning purposes. They have the same steering challenges as bikes, but they're less intimidating.

2. Get her a trike!
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Old 07-10-08, 07:27 AM   #21
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When I was first practicing "clipless" we went to a quiet park with rather narrow smooth paths between lots of soft grass. Between there being no cars to kill me, no people to laugh at me, and the soft grass on which to land, I could concentrate on riding and not worry so much about falling. Does she have a girlfriend who can teach her? Maybe a recreational rider about the same age and weight?

Good luck on your journey!
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Old 07-10-08, 07:54 AM   #22
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How to Teach an Adult to Ride

Learning to ride as a adult?
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Old 07-10-08, 09:39 AM   #23
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Anyone have the Mission Impossible theme on MP3 they can post?
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Old 07-11-08, 05:34 PM   #24
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If she's game follow all the advice, and then tandem up!
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Old 07-11-08, 09:41 PM   #25
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Yup, get a tandem!
No need to teach her how to steer, pedal, shift, brake or even look out for traffic!
Do it TWOgether!
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