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  1. #1
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    Learning to ride as an adult

    Do you think it's possible for an adult (in their 20s) to learn to ride a bicycle for the first time? I've heard that it is a lot more difficult than learning as a child, in a similar way to learning a 2nd language, etc. An adult brain is harder to train than a child's.

    Plus, it seems like falling is going to hurt a lot more than it would when you're a lot closer to the ground to begin with (and there's no way you could get away with training wheels!).

    Anyone ever known someone who's done this successfully?

  2. #2
    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    Hi Doug,
    The answer is absolutely!

    My brother, at age 36, decided it was finally time to learn how to ride a bike. He actually went to the library and checked out a book on just this subject The basic point was to address the innate fear of falling. So, the suggestion was/is to lower the seat enough so that both feet could be flat on the floor when sitting on the bike. Then, lift up 1 foot then the other, and learn to balance. Of course the seat is then gradually heightened, etc. When I heard al of this, 25 years ago, I mentioned it to my then 10 year old daughter. Ten minutes later, I look out the front window of our house and there she is biking down the street for the first time!!

    Good luck and best regards
    Barry,68,New Jersey
    2012 Trek 7.4FX - Exercise for life

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    With normal levels of coordination and balance, why not?

    At my age, I consider someone in their 20s to be a kid, anyway....

  4. #4
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Take the pedals off , lower the seat, and ride it like a 'Flintstone' bike. The object is to gradually learn how to push and glide. His feet will always be there to catch him if he loses his balance. Once he learns to turn into the fall to balance, he'll get better in a hurry; and when he can consistently glide to a standstill, put the pedals back on and raise the seat.

  5. #5
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    There was a feature on one of the morning news shows last week showing that a number of adults are learning to ride bikes for the first time. The highlighted a lady who taught classes to adult newbies. They called her the "Bike Whisperer". She seemed to start by teaching riders to ride in an open area, turning the handlebars to follow whichever way the bike leaned as they wobbled along. It seemed to be working.

    I think this is her.
    http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/arti...rt_at_any_age/
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  6. #6
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    I develoepd courses and taught adults to ride ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-50s. Most were females.

    It is not as simple as just taking off the pedals and getting a novice to glide.

    Two of the critical elements are fit, and routine; the first is self-explanatory, the second breaks down the "second nature" methods that experienced rider use to mount a bike and start pedalling.

    In addition, adult training is vastly different from childhood learning, and the stress an adult can develop, especially if they are trying to please an impatient partner, can be palpable.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  7. #7
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    I taught myself to ride last year and I'm on this forum

    Still very nervous in traffic, however.

  8. #8
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougG View Post
    Do you think it's possible for an adult (in their 20s) to learn to ride a bicycle for the first time? I've heard that it is a lot more difficult than learning as a child, in a similar way to learning a 2nd language, etc. An adult brain is harder to train than a child's.

    Plus, it seems like falling is going to hurt a lot more than it would when you're a lot closer to the ground to begin with (and there's no way you could get away with training wheels!).

    Anyone ever known someone who's done this successfully?
    I taught myself to ride as an adult in December 2006 and January 2007. Ten months later I'd completed a century. That first year I went on a four day bike tour and rode more than 3000 miles. I'm 41 and have structural problems - knocked knees, uneven legs, and scoliosis. So it can be done.

  9. #9
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    Hey Doug,
    I taught myself yesterday, and I am really psyched about it! Took me about 20 min to go from impossible to balance to riding loops around my apartment complex. No need for the "take the pedals off" and all the other stuff that scared me before I started. Just find a piece of flat ground where no one can bother you (and no kids around to laugh and point ), and try first to kick start and glide without pedalling, to keep your balance. Then little by little I started pedaling, and then moved to the quiet road around where I could also go downhill. Not kidding, 20 minutes. Go for it!
    Oh, I'm 33!

  10. #10
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thelonius View Post
    I taught myself to ride last year and I'm on this forum

    Still very nervous in traffic, however.
    It's not a bad feeling to have.

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocdoc View Post
    Hey Doug,
    I taught myself yesterday, and I am really psyched about it! Took me about 20 min to go from impossible to balance to riding loops around my apartment complex. No need for the "take the pedals off" and all the other stuff that scared me before I started. Just find a piece of flat ground where no one can bother you (and no kids around to laugh and point ), and try first to kick start and glide without pedalling, to keep your balance. Then little by little I started pedaling, and then moved to the quiet road around where I could also go downhill. Not kidding, 20 minutes. Go for it!
    Oh, I'm 33!
    Congratulations!

  12. #12
    I make stuff up
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    Years ago a woman in her late 50's came into the shop wanting to learn how to ride a bike. She was nervous, a little embarrassed, and quite determined. What worked for her was a step through cruiser, saddle down, pedals off. She started pushing and gliding. Within 30 minutes the pedals were on and the saddle was rising. I'm not saying this is the only way, but it worked well in this case.
    It's around here somewhere . . .

  13. #13
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    I did it....Totally backwards. Didn't have a bike as a kid. In my twenties, I decided to learn to ride a motorcycle. I bought a well-used Honda 90 and flogged it around a dirt/gravel circuit till I could keep it upright. Lost mucho skin from my shins.
    Got so fond of motorcycling I took up motocross. Read somewhere that riding a bike was good training for MX, so I bought one. Took me about 10 minutes to get going.
    After breaking bones, I gave up motocross and kept the bike.

  14. #14
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    I registered on this forum just to reply to this wonderful thread. I am 44 yo and I couldn't ride a bike. My father was over protective, and never let me learn as a child. Ironically, I was graduated as an army pilot, doing everything dangerous in life, from parachuting, to riding planes! My wife and kids can ride bikes, and usually she used to mock about this. On Valentine's day, my wife asked me generously, what do you want to have as a valentine present. My eyes rolled like a kid, and I said in a whispering voice, I want a bike!
    She took me from the hands to the toys street (Khaled Ibn Alwalid's street) in Kuwait, where I live, and told me ... choose which bike you want. I went wondering between bikes, with my saliva dropping, and my mouth open to my shoulders, and chose one bike, size 26, red, looking to be like a race bike. We bought it for around 30 KD (100 USD). I then went to the repair shop nearby, and asked for training wheels. They looked to me and started laughing. I told them, honestly, I need training wheels as I cannot ride a bike. They said for my size , it is not available. I was frustrated a bit. My 14yo son rode the bike, and it seemed OK. We bought a car mounting kit, and I proudly hanged my new red bike on the car.
    The next day, I tried riding it, and it was in vain. They tried to hold me and run beside me while I am peddling, but, no way.
    I am recently diagnosed as diabetic. I measured my fasting glucose level the following day, and it was significantly low ! Wow, the little exercise I made yesterday helped a lot. This is a therapy in itself, although I can't ride!
    The next day, I went to the repair shop and bought stabilizers, or what they call support wheels, size 20. Then I went to a welding shop, and modified it to the size of the bike. In the evening, I went excited to the park, preparing to ride my new treasure, however, the stabilizers kept going backwards, and I failed again.
    The following day, I went to the welding workshop, and modified the design once more, making the stabilizers as a T shape, and welded it to the frame of the bicycle.
    In the evening, I went again to the park, and tried to ride my sweet ride. After pedaling for few seconds, the stabilizers were bent upwards, and again, a failure. They kept me from falling, but were not putting me upright. When the stabilizer wheel toughed the ground, it was making horrible noise.
    I kept on measuring my glucose levels, and it was improving. I have to learn biking.
    I asked my wife and kids how do they stabilize themselves on a bike, what part of the body is used, they would stay the shoulders, or the hip. I tried everything... nothing worked. I was so frustrated, and almost gave up. I read on this forum couple of things that helped me a lot.
    1- You use your hands to stabilize yourself by steering into the direction where you will fall.
    2- Put the seat so low


    My bicycle does not have an adjustable seat, as it is a street Chinese cheap bike, and it is a bit high for me. Another thing, the bike pedals were so high that when I am on the top of the pedaling cycle, I hit my elbow.
    I went searching on the internet for the best bike for a beginner. Every other post pointed to mountain bike, as it is more stable, and have wider wheels.
    I went to Another shop and bought a brand bike called “rock rider”. This time, I bought size 24 with medium frame for around 63 KD. The following day, I went to the park with a wrench to remove the pedals as most people advise. When I entered the park, I decided to give it a try first. I started pedaling, and found myself steering into the fall, and pedaling !
    It was the bike then ! The improvised training wheels did nothing but disturb me, and the weird proportions of the bike to pedals to handles made it extremely difficult for me to steer or balance.
    I took couple of circles, and found that I could steer curves.
    Then, I picked up the phone, and called my father. I told him I bought a bike, and I can ride it now. I put him on speakerphone, and he started warning me about the dangers of riding a bike for the 1000 time !
    I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this forum, and shared their success stories, as they inspired me, and helped a lot in making the learning experience less painful.

  15. #15
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    I was going to post something snarky, such as, "It depends on which adult", but after reading the sincere replies from adults who have done it and the enjoyment/empowerment/sense of accomplishment/etc, I'm just pleased to see that people do it.

    It must be like living all your life without ice cream, and then one day discovering....

  16. #16
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    Hi,

    To an extent it does depend on what you have done before.

    e.g. can you skate, use a scooter - the kiddie 3 wheelers are
    are bit of a con - not really different to two wheelers really.

    FWIW I learnt to ice skate, which basically I could never do,
    by accident in a sense, by looking after a bunch of children
    going ice skating for the first time. 2 hours on the ice but
    not thinking about what I was doing nearly all of the time
    cracked it, you don't "know" how you ride a bike, you don't
    "know" how to skate, but something inside works it out.

    Strangely though, skating is more amenable to analysis
    and improved technique once you conquered the basics,
    but riding a bike you simply can or simply can't basically.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 02-21-13 at 03:42 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member David Bierbaum's Avatar
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    Try using the strider method, where you have a bicycle with no pedals, and the seat set low enough for your feet to touch the ground.

  18. #18
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
    Try using the strider method, where you have a bicycle with no pedals, and the seat set low enough for your feet to touch the ground.
    I have two friends that learned how to ride as adults (late 20s early 30s) using this method. They are both happy bike riders now.
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  19. #19
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mijo View Post
    I registered on this forum just to reply to this wonderful thread....

    ...

    I took couple of circles, and found that I could steer curves.
    Then, I picked up the phone, and called my father. I told him I bought a bike, and I can ride it now. I put him on speakerphone, and he started warning me about the dangers of riding a bike for the 1000 time !
    I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this forum, and shared their success stories, as they inspired me, and helped a lot in making the learning experience less painful.
    Mijo, thanks for posting that wonderful story. I hope you are enjoying your riding and that your sugar levels down...

    Be well!
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  20. #20
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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  21. #21
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
    Try using the strider method, where you have a bicycle with no pedals, and the seat set low enough for your feet to touch the ground.
    That lady is adorable!

    Here in Kentucky we drop people off about fifty miles into the country on a bike, without money or cellphone. They either sink or swim.

  22. #22
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuance View Post
    Just spotted this while surfing Amazon and thought of this thread...

    And no I'm not trying to be funny.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bike-USA-Stabi...ywords=cycling


    I can (maybe) think of a few useful cases where these would be useful, but learning to ride a bicycle isn't one of them. Rolling down a hill learning to balance the bike is by far a better technique for those learning.

    Cheers,
    Charles
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  23. #23
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    I'm an adult trying to always remember what is was like to ride like a kid. Kids have joy to them and it really shows when they ride a bike. The OP has the opportunity to capture that joy at a time when we as adults often fine it hard to summon. Have fun with it. A bike is so much more than basic transportation, it is joy. Every success will bring a smile. Guaranteed.
    FS: Shimano DA 7900 brake calipers, DA 7900 Crankset 50/34 175mm and BB

  24. #24
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
    Try using the strider method, where you have a bicycle with no pedals, and the seat set low enough for your feet to touch the ground.
    Great video! Thanks for sharing!

    - Wil
    "" - Marcel Marceau

  25. #25
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    I'm an adult trying to always remember what is was like to ride like a kid.
    That's easy to remember. It's like this:


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