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  1. #1
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    Learning to ride as a adult?

    I think that I may be the only grown woman in the country who never learned to ride a bike as a child. Does anyone know where I can learn this? Or is it something that I should be able to pick up on my own?

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Learning to ride a bike is not hard at all unless you have something working against you. Now if you are over 50 age and reaction time may start to catch up with you.

    My one hint is it is easy to ride a bike. It is hard to balance on a bike that is standing still. If you are afraid then the natural tendency is to slow down. This is BAD you are making it hard on yourself. I'm not saying you have to hit 20 mph, 10 is plenty, but somewhere near the pace of a brisk walk it starts getting hard to balance. Go slower than that and you will have trouble.

    If you can get a mountian bike or other bug tire bike that may make things easier. A off road bike on grass trimmed short is ideal as then a fall is something to laugh about. But to start pick a place with nothing for you to hit and nothing to hit you.

    Odds are you will either have no problems or they will seem foolish and avoidable looking back. (Hopefully with a few more tips it will be the former).

  3. #3
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    I did things backwards...Never rode a bike as a child, and bought a motorcycle at about age 25. Learned to ride that, THEN bought a bicycle. Not a procedure I'd reccomend...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dang's Avatar
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    I worked with a 24 yr old guy who just learned to ride a bike. Its because of scooters he said.
    A bicycle, or bike, is a pedal-driven, human-powered vehicle with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other.

  5. #5
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    It is easy for those of us who learnt as children to say "its easy". I am sure that is what ski kids say when they see guys like me tripping over ourselves on the nursey slopes.
    Teaching an adult is quite different to teaching a child to ride.
    Do you have a bike at the moment?
    There are a few fundamentals to remember when riding a bike?:
    Bikes dont travel in staright lines, but a series of swooping curves. With experienced riders, the curves are so large that they appear straight, with beginers the curves should be more obvious.
    You use the steering to correct for balance and change direction by leaning (much like flying an aircraft , which is no coincidence).
    When you stop the bike with brakes, your body weight will continue forward unless you brace against the bars.

    Find a safe place to ride, ideally a gently sloping grass field with a large run off area and no sticky-outy bits to ride into. Wear clothes to protect you from scratches if you fall. A helmet may be useful but on soft grass is not essential.
    Start with the saddle low. Roll along and get the feel of stopping using the brakes.
    Riding is easier if you go a bit faster, the bike will be easier to balance. Slow speed riding is quite a difficult skill.

    Its really hard to describe a balancing activity in words, you just have to go and try it.

  6. #6
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Bikes dont travel in staright lines, but a series of swooping curves. With experienced riders, the curves are so large that they appear straight, with beginers the curves should be more obvious.
    Well, I learned my one thing for the day - and it's not even 7AM!

  7. #7
    Senior Member plin's Avatar
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    Using a road bike to start learning to ride is probable not a good idea. I would suggest bikes with fatter tires and set the saddle fairly low so that the tip of your feet can touch the ground easily. Try starting on a gentle downward slope so that you will have some forward momentum without having to pedal.

    Good luck. It's never too late!

  8. #8
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    I agree with plin - you'd be best off learning on a comfortable bike. I would suggest a so-called "granny bike" style is great because, as the name would imply, it's easy to ride. However, I think the first point is where you can go to learn.

    Where are you? Maybe you can find a local bike shop that would allow you to test ride some bikes to get the feel of them, or at the very least they would know of any other places or courses that would be useful.

    MichaelW, a series of sweeping curves? Now I've heard everything

  9. #9
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    Take the pedals off, lower the seat so that your feet touch the ground, find a grassy slope with a gentle downhill, sit on bike, use feet to move bike forward, and as you can, raise feet to get the feel of "balancing."

    As you gain balance, put pedals on and use them to gain speed. Raise seat and pedal away!
    Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone >> Gone

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus
    MichaelW, a series of sweeping curves? Now I've heard everything
    Try riding with your front wheel in some kind of rut that prevents steering. You fall off if you unable to steer. If we are contantly making small adjustments to the steering, we are not riding in a straight line. It just appears straight because the radius of the curves is so large. Most complete newbies attempt to steer a straight line and wobble all over the place. If you direct newbie to ride in curves, around some widely spaced markers then balance becomes a lot easier.

    Training techniques often seem counter-intuitive because experienced people forget or internalise what they are doing.

  11. #11
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    I'm around Lynchburg, VA. No, I don't have a bike yet. I have access to a few here on campus. I am going to be moving to Tucson next fall, and I don't want to get a car, so I figured that its about time that I learned.

    Thanks for all of the advice.

  12. #12
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    The ideal learning bike is a singlespeed with a low open frame.
    If you are getting a bike for commuting and want to learn on that, then treat it as a singlespeed and ignore gear changing till you are ready. Make sure that the selected gear is fairly low for easy riding.
    Dont try to learn on a bike that is too large or too small.

  13. #13
    Senior Member madman91's Avatar
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    get started with a helmet to get into habit..
    otherwise like 10 other ppl said... small grass hill.

  14. #14
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    The ideal bike is a rental bike so you don't have to worry about dinging it.

    DFox was right on, take it in stages:

    1. walk bike slowly and practice braking
    2. coast downhill with no pedals, or feet outstretched to learn steering
    3. start adding pedaling, do not put both feet on bike before moving. If the bike's not moving you'll fall.
    4. celebrate
    5. try shifting between 2 gears WHILE pedaling
    6. celebrate
    7. repeat any of the above you want to practice on more
    8. try riding on empty bike trails/roads
    9. when have balancing and shifting and braking review bike safety rule for road travel
    10. get on the road and practice more
    11. celebrate, you've made it.

    good luck, let us know where you get stuck. kudo's to you for taking this leap.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  15. #15
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    I am a 57 year old adult and I've just learned to ride a bike.
    If that sounds like the beginning of an alchoholics anonymous meeting, there's good reason.

    I just went for a short ride together with my daughter for the first time ever (she's sixteen now and I taught her to ride many years ago - ironic or what?).

    Here's my experience, which I think gives a different perspective to those posting who learned at six and think it's all easy.

    So this post is directed only at people like I was two weeks ago. Please don't bother to tell me my understanding of the gyroscopic effect is wrong.
    It's still all new to me, I've only had about 6-7 one hour sessions so I am riding: but following a narrow path without falling in the bushes on either side and uphill starts are still beyond me.

    If you are remotely like me you are not just learning to ride but also battling with fifty years of fear and shame.
    We are older. Falling hurts and isn't just shrugged off with a cuddle (trust me the long chain mark going up my leg really hurts!).
    So I would argue the best way to learn as an adult (and maybe for a child like I was fifty years ago) is by tiny, safe-feeling steps.
    I've seen some programs that say "repeat ten times or do for five minutes".
    IMHO this is rubbish: repeat until the fear reduces. You will then try a bit too hard and it'll go wrong and put you back a bit. Don't feel you can't go back a step or two. If like me you spend maybe an hour just sitting on the bike or scooting about a bit, that's all vital progress towards the goal.

    I largely followed the ideas described in this forum and on other pages. I also found a uTube of an elderly lady learning that taught me nothing at all but gave me a kick towards starting. [BTW: I found internet pages on "how to learn to ride as an adult" - then took six months working up the courage to actually start]

    Things that helped me:
    The real eureka for me was being told that the handlebars aren't for steering but are used to balance.
    The tip, turn away a little from the direction you want to turn is helpful, but only partially. [I still don't know how I turn! In the early days turning isn't in your repertoire anyway]
    At the beginning I found it helpful to drop the saddle right down to have my feet flat on the floor, this boosts confidence immensely.
    I removed the pedals, easy if you have the right spanner and know they undo in different directions. Find the right spanner for your saddle too.
    I did my first four hours in the dark, not ideal but helps with the shame/embarrassment factor.
    Like many posts, I started just by scooting about like this, this starts to give a feel of balance.
    You next need a place to learn. I found "the perfect park": Wantage Park, UK in case you are near.
    All these factors were helpful to me: wide spaces, flat parts and some relatively gentle slopes.
    Few trees (although I did get very close a few times to the few there). But a few are good later when learning to steer round things.
    The grass isn't too bumpy nor too long. (That said, some small bumps help learning as they stop you thinking about things too hard).
    I found the grass helpful as I felt more in control on the slower surface than when on the the tarmac in the car park or paths (later).
    A wide area is essential at the beginning, you are learning to balance, not steer.

    I spent a bit of time on the flat and then freewheeling down the gentle hill, working my way further up the hill as I learned and gained confidence. This took me several sessions.
    At this time you will need to learn how to stop: two tips, wait until stopped before putting feet down. Use both brakes gently, I found the front stronger and will start to send you over the front if you panic.
    Look ahead not down.
    Once freewheeling with a bit of confidence, practice lifting up your feet to where the pedals would be.
    I found I could steer by looking where I wanted to go. Almost certainly anti-scientific but it may work for you too.

    I expected the "putting the pedals back on" step to be hard but provided you still have the saddle low you will find scooting is still possible so isn't a huge jump (which we want to avoid).
    The slope here was invaluable. Starting to pedal from a cold stop I still find hard, but starting to freewheel, and then lifting your feet up is easy if you have done the freewheeling practice.

    If you're like me, this is the core to starting to ride. There's lots more (raising the saddle back up, going uphill, gears, going round stuff, playing with little slaloms) but I found this to be much more obvious than the first part above which is more about overcoming fear and "inner-riding" than anything else.

    Hope this helps, Good Luck.
    It's a hell of a kick when you move on a step!

  16. #16
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    This subject actually comes up quite often. You're not alone.

    I'll echo Dnvr's advice. I'd recommend putting the seat down far enough that you can not only touch but flat-foot both feet at the same time while seated. With no pedals on the bike, 'flintstone' the bike around an empty parking lot. Remember that a bike is balanced by steering into the fall. Turning past the fall line sets up a fall in the opposite direction, so the net result is that you will go in the desired direction, but you'll follow a somewhat wavy line. Bearing that in mind, paddle the bike around until you get comfortable. As you get better, you will learn to push and glide. The better you get, the less you'll wobble. When you get comfortable doing it - you'll know when the time is right - you'll be ready to put the pedals back on and go for a short ride.

    We'll be waiting to hear your success story!

  17. #17
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    My wife never learned to ride a bike until she was 24. My friend tried to teach her but without luck. Another friend of mine, owner of the LBS said he teach her in one day and he did.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  18. #18
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    Starting out. First you need to get your pedals in the same spot each time. If you start with
    your left foot, you want the left pedal at 10 o-clock. If you start with your right foot, you
    want your right pedal at 2 o-clock.

    One foot on the ground, one on the pedal! Eyes straight ahead. Slight push down on the
    foot with the pedal. Don't try to push with the foot on the ground, it will just upset your
    balance. As the pedal comes up on the ground foot side, just put your foot on it and push
    down. DO NOT LOOK DOWN AT THE PEDALS, you know where they are! Looking down and
    going forward is bad. Your eyes use the things in front of your to reference up and down
    and side to side! And a little speed and the bike is stable! More speed more stable!

    DO NOT DRAG YOUR FEET, that is what brakes are for! If you are dragging your feet and
    run over your heel, it will be a bad day!

  19. #19
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Welcome to BikeForums, Steve57! You've proven that you're never to old to learn something new.

    Stop by the 50+ forum and say hello.
    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Does the ignore feature just replace all of the poster's text with "Said something stupid" because that would be awesome.
    Forum Guidelines *click here*

  20. #20
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Kids learn without fear; adults fear the learning process.

    Falling is the big thing. The post that talked about scooters is to me, the transition stage. The scooter like the adult laser kick scooter is low to the ground, is driven by your leg and feet action, and consequently, you get accustomed to the balancing thing quickly.

    The next step would be the bike.

  21. #21
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    I thought I'd update my story about learning as an adult.
    As I said in this thread a few weeks ago: I'm 57 and first rode a bike just six weeks ago.

    Well, today my daughter and I just completed our first cycle event: the uptonogood 12-mile mountain-bike challenge.
    Ok, it's not "mountain"-biking (I live in the UK we have no mountains, just hills) but a 600ft height range was enough to make me get off and walk a few times.

  22. #22
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    steve57 -- way to go!! That is so great to hear! I'm going to be sharing your posts. I loved your earlier post with the tips and then to hear of your success today is such a happy ending... or rather, a happy beginning!

    ML
    Last edited by Mysterious Lady; 06-24-11 at 07:21 AM.
    Fitness rider on a 2010 Specialized Sirrus Sport, traveling on windy, hilly country roads with gravel shoulders. Hate the wind but love to ride! :)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve57 View Post
    I thought I'd update my story about learning as an adult.
    As I said in this thread a few weeks ago: I'm 57 and first rode a bike just six weeks ago.

    Well, today my daughter and I just completed our first cycle event: the uptonogood 12-mile mountain-bike challenge.
    Ok, it's not "mountain"-biking (I live in the UK we have no mountains, just hills) but a 600ft height range was enough to make me get off and walk a few times.
    Hi Steve 57!

    Bravo!

    I'm feeling your elation and pain!

    Currently, I'm writing what I hope will be a humorous take on bike riding. Would you be willing to have me mention/quote some of your account of your riding efforts?

    I was back to riding after many years not riding and had a rough time. Finally, I changed bike types - I now have a hybrid which allows me to sit up and not hurt - and not fall off like I was. (I am slightly arthritic in my knee and getting off quickly was causing me issues.)

    Please let me know if you're okay for me to quote what you've written. (My book will be called - Biking for the Couch Potato - it's a sequel to my book - Hiking for the Couch Potato. (You can see my web site - which is going through a transition- www.hiking.forthecouchpotato.com)

    I like your spunk and writing!

    Warmest regards,

    headpotato - Shelley Gillespie

  24. #24
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    No problems.

  25. #25
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    [QUOTE=steve57;12806002]I thought I'd update my story about learning as an adult.
    As I said in this thread a few weeks ago: I'm 57 and first rode a bike just six weeks ago.

    Steve57 - I see your post was over a year ago...I found it recently as I was searching for information about learning to ride - I'm about the same as you are and it's so good to know I'm not alone. After reading your story I am going to get myself a bike - I'm not far from you and know Wantage park well! So...I found a shop nearby - in Abingdon - where second hand bikes are sold so I'm going to take the plunge and actually go in and talk to them!!! My kids are encouraging me to do this - something I've always wanted to do but afraid to look silly!

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