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Old 08-30-08, 06:15 PM   #1
Bikewer
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Professional riding instruction

Last week, on one of the NPR programs I listen to, they had a short bit on parents hiring professional instructors to teach their kids to ride.
The tone of the article was rather snippy; along the line of "rich yuppies paying good money for something everybody knows how to do."

But do they?

I work at a major university, which is also right on the edge of a popular recreational/commuter route. So, I see dozens of cyclists each day. And many of them do not have a clue.
They don't have a good position on the bike, they don't have the faintest notion of how to shift gears, (I see people walking 24-speed mountain bikes up hills) they seem to be terrified of the front brake....They don't even know how to properly fit a helmet.

I think many adults learned to ride little 20" bikes as kids, and then they decide they want a "real" bike as an adult. Off to the bike shop, a quick look-over of the many styles, a half-listen to the salesman, and out they go with their new, ill-adjusted and poorly suited toy....

Maybe I should go into the "profession"......
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Old 08-30-08, 07:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Last week, on one of the NPR programs I listen to, they had a short bit on parents hiring professional instructors to teach their kids to ride.
The tone of the article was rather snippy; along the line of "rich yuppies paying good money for something everybody knows how to do."

But do they?

I work at a major university, which is also right on the edge of a popular recreational/commuter route. So, I see dozens of cyclists each day. And many of them do not have a clue.
Of all the places I ride, campus communities easily wins hands down as the areas with the worst riders.

I think it's not that bad an idea. Most kids I see have really bad cycling habits, cannot recognize serious equipment problems that can cause injury, and ride severely misadjusted bikes that cause discomfort and could cause injury if ridden enough. Most adults are not much better.
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Old 08-30-08, 09:34 PM   #3
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Hmmm...interesting. I thought you were talking about going to a pro to improve your racing or at least high intensity cycling performance. I'm considering that for mountain biking 'cause I just suck on a mountain bike. As soon as the terrain turns downhill I'm shelled off the back. What you're talking about sounds more like rich yuppies paying good money for something everybody knows how to do . Just kidding. It does seem a bit odd. Granted many parents don't ride bikes and so really couldn't teach their kids even assuming the kids were interested in learning. My wife certainly needs professional lessons 'cause she has no clue and won't listen to me. She grew up riding a single speed coaster brake bike and doesn't know how to use the gears on a multispeed bike. She told me once she wants a bike with an automatic transmission. Maybe a pro could help her. I haven't haven't had much luck.
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Old 08-30-08, 09:45 PM   #4
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She told me once she wants a bike with an automatic transmission.
They make these.
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Old 08-31-08, 04:41 AM   #5
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A lot of the LBS's in my area offer beginner riding courses that teach things like shifting technique, rules of the road, and other various things many of us take for granted. Not to mention, the bike is fitted at time of purchase.

Granted, you are only going to get these Benny's if you purchase new from the LBS.

There is one shop that has these types of things intermittently through out the year that are open to anyone. It's a good marketing tool for attracting future customers, no matter where they bought their bike. Our local biking association has these types of things as well. You just have to pay the $25 annual membership fee.

Honestly, I feel that as experienced cyclists, we have an obligation to help new riders when the opportunity presents itself. Seriously, how much of a hardship is it to give up a Saturday to help someone you know who has just gotten a bicycle and hasn't ridden since they were a teenager? A few hours of time spent teaching basic things such as flat repair, hydration advice, how to put your chain back on, etiquette and rules of the road, and things like shifting technique. It makes for a safer rider, one who is less likely to be a danger to themselves or the motoring public, and increases the likely hood of the rider continuing in the activity.
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Old 08-31-08, 07:55 AM   #6
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... they seem to be terrified of the front brake....
I run into that one -- fear of the front brake -- a lot. This summer I witnessed two crashes (minor ones, but still) that came about from kids not using the front brake. Just a short class on braking technique would go a long way towards making kids safer on their bikes. A bit of a lesson on quick-releases wouldn't hurt either. I ran into a kid earlier this summer who was riding around with his front QR dangling, it was loose and floppy and about to open up past the safety-tabs. I'm sure I saved him from an ugly face-plant.

FWIW, I'm actually planning out a mountain-bike class to pitch to a summer-camp that my kids attend regularly. I don't have the entire class mapped out yet, but the first day will cover braking technique and how to quickly do a safety check on a bike. It only takes a second or two to glance over the QRs and look at the condition of the brake and derailler cables (to check for broken strands, missing cables, etc). And a quick grab of the handlebars and squeeze on the brake levers will tell you a lot too.

Hmmm... Maybe I should pitch the "safety day" idea locally. It might be a fun thing to do in conjunction with the sheriff department. We could cover helmet usage, braking, rules of the road, my safety-check, all probably in a couple of hours. I'll have to noodle that idea around a bit.

In the end, biking is like many other sports. One can pick up many sports just by jumping in and doing, but a bit of instruction (whether from a person or from a book or from an online forum) can go a long way towards increasing enjoyment.
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Old 08-31-08, 12:11 PM   #7
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They make these.
They do but as with most of the bikes designed for ease of use over performance, they don't have gearing (or weight) suitable for riding the extremely hilly terrain of Colorado. I suppose if she put the bike on the car and drove downtown and then just rode around downtown it might work but she'd never be able to get it up the big hill back to our house. We live on the side of a mountain so you really need gears.
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Old 08-31-08, 01:39 PM   #8
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Were they actually teaching their kids to ride without stabilisers? Or teaching them how to develop their skills? Not quite sure from your wording.

Our Saturday club has become a bit of a mecca for parents who have heard about us teaching kids to ride and we have a pretty good success record - not failed with one over the last 10 years. What helps is that we have a good, safe, cycling facility with a half-mile cycling road circuit, the use of a couple of all-weather socccer pitches (rolled shale/grit), a mini bmx track and a fair bit of grass including short slopes.

We've taught so many this summer, I sometimes seem to be surrounded by the ankle-biters bike club.

It's easy to forget that there is a "lost" generation of parents who were probably the first one to be stopped from riding generally "because the traffic is dangerous", so the knowledge which we take for granted (drop-out safety tabs - grrrr anyone?) isn't there. Many of the early questions I was asked by parents (who are required to be present at the sessions and help where necessary) brought this home to me and changed the way I thought about how we ran the club.

Even simple things like the barrel adjusters on brake levers on mtb and bmx bikes were a mystery to many, so make sure you don't take your own carefully gathered expertise for granted.

By the way, we're all volunteers - no professionals here.
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Old 08-31-08, 03:09 PM   #9
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Last week, on one of the NPR programs I listen to, they had a short bit on parents hiring professional instructors to teach their kids to ride.
Maybe they were referring to this.
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Old 08-31-08, 04:24 PM   #10
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My kids all took this BikeEd class in the 4th grade.
http://www.hbl.org/?q=node/18

Last edited by CB HI; 08-31-08 at 04:28 PM.
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