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  1. #1
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    The learning curve of learning to ride as an adult...

    A friend of mine is becoming more and more interested in biking, but he never learned to ride a bike as a child. I think his interest is being perked by my enthusiasm for riding as of late. He'd certainly like to join me on my commutes and leisurely rides.

    If we were to go out and try to get him on a bike, just how soon do you suspect one could become "road ready"? As a child, I seem to remember not being able to ride the first day, learning to stay on two wheels the next day, and finally, getting more comfortable with turning on my bike.

  2. #2
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    My mum only got a bike a couple of years ago having never cycled in her life before. I wasn't around to see her 'learn' but she apparently picked it up quickly and can ride fine from what I've seen, just lacks the confidence to go on roads since she doesn't cycle very often.

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    There are a number of older threads on adults learning to ride. Search on Adult Learner and read through some of the advice there.
    People often underestimate the amount of skill required to ride competatnly just because children ride but children are very effective at leaning complex new skills. If you go to a snowy mountainous area, all the children are excellent skiers. Now I can ski a bit, I spent a week when I was 14 learning to fall over and a couple of weeks in my 30's learing to get down a mountain without falling over. I would rate cycling on a similar scale of difficulty.
    Simply balancing and making progress is easy enough but a competant cyclist can do that on autopilot, concentrating on road and traffic conditions, the optimum line and always ready for potential dangers.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RussB's Avatar
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    When he does start learning, start on slight upgrades. And have him practice breaking as soon as he gets going. and have him start at about 2nd or 3rd gear. If he is confident in his ability to stop, he will learn more qiuckly. As far as road ready, it will depend on how anxious he gets when the traffic picks up. Start in no traffis areas and slowly move up to low traffic.

  5. #5
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    The thing that's really hard for adult beginners is shifting and understanding the gears. IMO it's best to learn basic riding skills (balance, turning, braking, holding a line, turning your head, applying the rules of the road and riding in traffic) on a single-speed. If a geared bike is all he/you have to learn with, put it into a gear that equates to roughly 70 gear inches and leave it alone while you tackle the basics, only addressing shifting after the basics are mastered to an acceptable level. Figure a week on the basics, another on shifting. YMMV
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    At the age of NEVER YOU MIND, I have finally decided to learn how to ride a bike.

    Of course, it rained the first two weekends after I picked up my Trek 7300 but I've been out 8 days in the last two weeks.

    I didn't find shifting difficult, but I'm far from an expert and only have to contend with flat terrain and generally can stick to the middle front gear.

    My initial challenge was starting from a complete stop but practice has paid off and I'm much better at it. My balance still needs a lot of work. I'm balancing with my arms and not my lower body. Yesterday as I was cooling down after an 8 mile ride, I was cooling down at an exhausted 6 - 7 mph as I approached my car from 1/4 mile away. I suddenly realized that I was relaxed and not worrying about control. It was just there! I was even brave enough to hurriedly scratch my head.

    Unfortunately, today I was back to my old, bad habit of balancing with my arms. Oh well, that's why I'm going for a quick run, tommorow. Practice, practice, practic.

  7. #7
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    this worked for my mother when she was in her 60s,
    took the pedals off the bike, lowered the seat so she could sit on
    the seat and have her feet on the ground; then she propelled herself
    around a parking lot for a while with her feet. then as her balance
    improved; she became more relaxed and we went to some slight
    hills to coast down. after 4-5 times of this, raised the seat put on the
    pedals and away she went.

  8. #8
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone
    this worked for my mother when she was in her 60s,
    took the pedals off the bike, lowered the seat so she could sit on
    the seat and have her feet on the ground; then she propelled herself
    around a parking lot for a while with her feet. then as her balance
    improved; she became more relaxed and we went to some slight
    hills to coast down. after 4-5 times of this, raised the seat put on the
    pedals and away she went.
    This has to be one of the best ways to learn; not just for adults, but for kids also. Splitting the problem into two distinct parts (1) balance and (2) propulsion enables the learner to focus on one important thing at a time. It always amazes me when I see a child tottering about on a bike fitted with "training" wheels; I never say anything because "Where Ignorance is bliss…"

    - Wil
    "………………………" - Marcel Marceau

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone
    this worked for my mother when she was in her 60s,
    took the pedals off the bike, lowered the seat so she could sit on
    the seat and have her feet on the ground; then she propelled herself
    around a parking lot for a while with her feet. then as her balance
    improved; she became more relaxed and we went to some slight
    hills to coast down. after 4-5 times of this, raised the seat put on the
    pedals and away she went.
    Yup. When my wife was 30 I taught her to ride using the same method. Took about an afternoon.

  10. #10
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    There is a thread on going right now on this sub-forum about teaching a child how to ride with a lot of information that would pertain to your question. It might be worth it to take a look at it.

  11. #11
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud_311
    If we were to go out and try to get him on a bike, just how soon do you suspect one could become "road ready"?
    Too many variables. It all depends on the person. Some will pick it up in an afternoon (I mean the physical part necessary to balance and do basic braking and stuff). Some will require a couple of weeks of diligent practice. But for the most part anyone who knows how to walk has enough balancing skills to learn how to ride a bike imho, if they're willing to practice and overcome a bit of a fear. And one thing for sure: it's easier to learn cycling than, say, inline skating or ice skating. Bikes have those great things called brakes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud_311
    As a child, I seem to remember not being able to ride the first day, learning to stay on two wheels the next day, and finally, getting more comfortable with turning on my bike.
    Kids pick things up very quickly. They're also very enthusiastic, fearless and bike around a lot, so they become quite good in rather little time. Adults may take longer, though I do know of a few counterexamples (kids who were too scared and never learned how to ride and adults who picked it up very quickly and effortlessly). I kinda feel bad for people who never learned to ride a bike as a kid... They missed out so much of basic childhood! I hope they learn as adults and make up for it!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lt.Gustl's Avatar
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    Good advice,

    If kids learn so much better than adults, adult riders should be taught just like kids. Get the heaviest frame like three sizes too large and roll them down a hill on a busy street.

    seriously, training wheels should be banned. I just got an old Schwinn Town and Country tri-wheeler and the damned thing goes in the opposite direction I want to go. Two wheels only for me.

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    Too many variables. It all depends on the person. Some will pick it up in an afternoon (I mean the physical part necessary to balance and do basic braking and stuff). Some will require a couple of weeks of diligent practice. But for the most part anyone who knows how to walk has enough balancing skills to learn how to ride a bike imho, if they're willing to practice and overcome a bit of a fear. And one thing for sure: it's easier to learn cycling than, say, inline skating or ice skating. Bikes have those great things called brakes!

    Kids pick things up very quickly. They're also very enthusiastic, fearless and bike around a lot, so they become quite good in rather little time. Adults may take longer, though I do know of a few counterexamples (kids who were too scared and never learned how to ride and adults who picked it up very quickly and effortlessly). I kinda feel bad for people who never learned to ride a bike as a kid... They missed out so much of basic childhood! I hope they learn as adults and make up for it!
    I never learned to ride as a kid. I had to teach myself at age 41. My first ride was December 24, 2006, in which I went about two miles on a road and spilled while avoiding a mailbox that jumped in my path. Last week I logged 100 miles, 40 of them on one ride. It can be done, folks! :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian
    I never learned to ride as a kid. I had to teach myself at age 41. My first ride was December 24, 2006, in which I went about two miles on a road and spilled while avoiding a mailbox that jumped in my path. Last week I logged 100 miles, 40 of them on one ride. It can be done, folks! :-)
    You sir, are my hero. I'm up to 8 miles after 2 weeks, the LBS is impressed.

  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thelonius
    You sir, are my hero. I'm up to 8 miles after 2 weeks, the LBS is impressed.
    I'm impressed. I didn't get 8 miles in until March. Where in Jersey are you? I'm outside Philadelphia, in PA. We should meet to ride together when I'm back in the area - I'm traveling this week. Just don't try to mirror my form on the bike; men with scoliosis are not good role models for riding posture. :-)

  16. #16
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    It depends on your friend. Does your friend do anything that requires balance/coordination (skateboard, rollerskate, surf, etc)? If so, they likely will not have much trouble and you can start them out w/ a singlespeed (or geared set to one speed).

    If not, and they are having a lot of trouble, start them with a skooter (it's the same principle as the suggestion below) they learn balance and nothing but. Then you can try a cheap cruiser-style with fat tires, etc. etc.

    took the pedals off the bike, lowered the seat so she could sit on
    the seat and have her feet on the ground; then she propelled herself
    around a parking lot for a while with her feet. then as her balance
    improved; she became more relaxed and we went to some slight
    hills to coast down. after 4-5 times of this, raised the seat put on the
    pedals and away she went.
    I am a mutated sig Virus. Please put me in your sig so that I can continue to replicate and mutate, blah!.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian
    I'm impressed. I didn't get 8 miles in until March. Where in Jersey are you? I'm outside Philadelphia, in PA. We should meet to ride together when I'm back in the area - I'm traveling this week. Just don't try to mirror my form on the bike; men with scoliosis are not good role models for riding posture. :-)
    I'm in Bee-you-tee-full Burlington. I've been practicing underneath the Burlington Bristol Bridge. Trying to work my nerve up to take this out in traffic.

  18. #18
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    have him practice breaking as soon as he gets going
    I'll assume you meant "braking", right?
    If the new rider learns "breaking" he probably won't make it very far in his riding endeavor.

    Ah, it's only an arm... you don't need that!
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  19. #19
    Senior Member RussB's Avatar
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    Wow 14 replies before anyone caught the typo. But the they don't learn to brake they will break something

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