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Old 08-12-10, 12:28 PM   #1
KelsandraAnn
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Re-learning to Ride a Bike?

Did any of you have to "re-learn" to ride a bike when you first started seriously cycling?

I went and bought a bike at my LBS yesterday. Of course, they let me test it out first. I found myself unable to start pedaling correctly OR able to steer right! I know part of it was because I was really bonked from walking two miles in the blazing heat and high humidity to get there. But it was REALLY difficult for me to start pedaling, and I think that had to do more with lack of skills than lack of energy/reason. I ended up walking back home with the bike because I didn't trust my ability to ride it.

Granted, it has been about 12 years since I last rode a bike.

Anyone experience anything like this, and any tips to get my skills back up to speed? I now live in a fairly busy apartment complex on a semi-busy street, and management doesn't allow riding bikes in the parking lot. Plus, I don't like others to see me failing miserably at something a 6-year-old can do!
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Old 08-12-10, 01:10 PM   #2
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The best way (for me) to start is to straddle the bike, put a foot on the pedal (with the pedal forward and about half way between top and bottom of the pedal stroke) and push off with the other foot. Then place that foot of the empty pedal and just keep pedaling.
You have to get the bike moving so it won't fall over before you can pedal.
Speed helps with balance and turning. If you're going too slow its hard to balance and turning is difficult.
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Old 08-12-10, 01:48 PM   #3
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That's how I learned to start pedaling when I was younger (though I was self-taught), and that's what I've been trying. I guess I'm just out of practice, but it just feels really off, like I can't get my other foot on the pedal fast enough, and I start falling over. Oh well, I suppose I'll just keep trying. Thanks for the response!
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Old 08-12-10, 01:51 PM   #4
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just keep riding

it can even be awkward switching between different styles of bikes
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Old 08-12-10, 10:17 PM   #5
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That's how I learned to start pedaling when I was younger (though I was self-taught), and that's what I've been trying. I guess I'm just out of practice, but it just feels really off, like I can't get my other foot on the pedal fast enough, and I start falling over. Oh well, I suppose I'll just keep trying. Thanks for the response!
I taught a 40-year-old woman who'd never learned a few years ago for a newspaper column (I'd written a column about bikes, and she called and said she had a new boyfriend who was a cyclist and she wanted to surprise him). I did it the same way I did with my kids: Lower the seat so she could put both feet on the ground, take off the pedals so she wouldn't run over her heels, then had her coast down a VERY gentle hill, sort of like riding a scooter, until she could keep her balance. Her first ride was about four feet, but by the end of the afternoon she was arcing along for 100 yards or so. Then I put the pedals back on and told her to rest her feet on them, but not pedal. Then I yelled, "OK, now, PEDAL!" and she was riding.
You really forgot how to ride, though? I've never heard of anybody saying that. It's one of those things you're supposed to know forever once you learn how. I don't think I rode at all from about sixth grade until I got out of the Army at age 24, but bikes were cool in college. I bought one, hopped on and rode it 12 miles home.
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Old 08-13-10, 09:48 AM   #6
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After 10+ years of little to no riding I was a bit rusty and the bike felt twitchy. It didn't take too long for the body to remember. It's still coming back.........or I'm getting better at it little by little. Just ride and enjoy.
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Old 08-13-10, 10:05 AM   #7
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It just takes a little time to get your bicycling abilities back to were you need them to be again. It's like a lot of other things, you never really forget, you just get out of practice. Try playing Ping Pong after not playing it for 10 years or so, or playing the guitar after not doing that for several years. You will find yourself saying "I used to be able to do that"... A LOT.
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Old 08-13-10, 01:19 PM   #8
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I had to relearn as well.

What I did was I rented a simple beach cruiser for a bit, went out into a parking garage(I was on vacation at the time), and just rode over and over again in the nice open space. The good thing is, for the most part, parking garages are built near-perfectly level and flat, so you can just slowly figure it out without much chance of things messing up.

An empty parking lot would also work pretty well. You just need a nice, open space and some stubborn will. Best of luck!
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Old 08-14-10, 07:24 AM   #9
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I went for over 30 years without riding a bicycle. Then purchased a new bike this year. I didn't test ride the one I bought. I had the LBS order and assemble it for me. I really like the bike-I got lucky breaking the rule of test riding before one buys.

I had a bit of trouble riding at first. I found out that throwing my leg over the seat was very hard at first, but I learned to lean the bike over when mounting. Steering in a straight line was hard at first, and turning around while riding was very hard for me.

I just kept after it, and within a few dozen miles I was comfortable with the bike. Now I am riding 12-15 miles at a time and cycling feels very natural to me.

Hang in there-take it slow (always alway always wear a helmet)- and practice in flat parking lots (empty of cars) if you can. The re-learning effort is very much worth the end result!

Best
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Old 08-14-10, 07:53 AM   #10
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Here's the obligatory Sheldon Brown page, complete with a video, about starting and stopping:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/starting.html
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Old 08-14-10, 08:15 AM   #11
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Well, I had to relearn decent 'bike handling', but not riding in general. I've heard it said on more then one occasion that adults learn to ride a bike more quickly then children, and I believe it.
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Old 08-14-10, 11:29 AM   #12
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Carry a cell phone with you for safety reasons. I recently learned how to ride a bike and I took a nasty fall in an empty parking lot. I was lucky that it was just a bad sprain and I was able to limp home with the bike.

If I had broken a bone and didn't have a cell phone with me, it would have been a horrible experience instead of it being a frustrating one.
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Old 08-01-17, 02:08 PM   #13
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Guys, i really need ur advice

Well, am I the only person in the Earth who forgot how to ride a bike? The problem is I live in a place where it is impossible to have personal trainer. I didn't ride for 20 years, and when I was kid I used to ride BMX. Skillfully. Now, I am 35 years old, have much more kilos on me and I just wanted to train again with biking. So bought a bike. With the lowest top tube they had in store. Any shorter would be child bike. And still when I put my feet across it, I touch the ground with only half of my feet. When I seat on saddle, only my toes touch the ground. And I tried, I seat and immediately fell off. I simply don't have that courage again to mount bike and I even forgot how to dismount it, especially now when I have only this one which is not fit enough for me. Tell me, guys, please, is it possible that I simply forgot or maybe I didn't know it at all? Caue with my BMX I always could touch ground with feet from saddle. And is it problem this thing with top tube? I mean, I am devastated, I managed to do impossible - forget how to ride a bike. Please, I need some advice of yours.
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Old 08-01-17, 03:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by KelsandraAnn View Post
That's how I learned to start pedaling when I was younger (though I was self-taught), and that's what I've been trying. I guess I'm just out of practice, but it just feels really off, like I can't get my other foot on the pedal fast enough, and I start falling over. Oh well, I suppose I'll just keep trying. Thanks for the response!
When my wife got on a bike after lots of years the things that helped were:

lower the seat. It really helped with her confidence. Later set it back up to fit you because it's harder to ride with it too low.

In the beginning if you can sit on the seat and touch the ground you won't feel like you're going to fall while you get rolling enough to stay up.

Make sure you are not in a hard to pedal gear. You don't need to be shifting to learn but you want to be in an easy to pedal gear.

Find a place you can practice and feel safe. Find some shade!

Try rolling forward standing on one pedal while pushing with the other foot like a strider untill you feel some balance coming on - then start pedling.

Whatever you do don't give up. Once that second pedal drops you will remember.

NEVER EVER go for a ride without your cell phone!

Zombied again! Oh well advice still applies.

Last edited by peugeot mongrel; 08-01-17 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 08-01-17, 04:03 PM   #15
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Well, am I the only person in the Earth who forgot how to ride a bike? The problem is I live in a place where it is impossible to have personal trainer. I didn't ride for 20 years, and when I was kid I used to ride BMX. Skillfully. Now, I am 35 years old, have much more kilos on me and I just wanted to train again with biking. So bought a bike. With the lowest top tube they had in store. Any shorter would be child bike. And still when I put my feet across it, I touch the ground with only half of my feet. When I seat on saddle, only my toes touch the ground. And I tried, I seat and immediately fell off. I simply don't have that courage again to mount bike and I even forgot how to dismount it, especially now when I have only this one which is not fit enough for me. Tell me, guys, please, is it possible that I simply forgot or maybe I didn't know it at all? Caue with my BMX I always could touch ground with feet from saddle. And is it problem this thing with top tube? I mean, I am devastated, I managed to do impossible - forget how to ride a bike. Please, I need some advice of yours.


I never rode BMX, but you won't be able to put your feet flat on the ground while sitting in the saddle of a properly adjusted road bike. Your knee should just be slightly bent when your foot is on the pedal in the six o'clock position. You can usually put your feet flat on the ground when you are off the seat and straddling the top tube. To start riding, straddle the top tube with one foot on the pedal in the forward position and one foot on the ground. Push down on the pedal while you push off with the other foot and hop into the seat.
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Old 08-01-17, 05:14 PM   #16
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I never rode BMX, but you won't be able to put your feet flat on the ground while sitting in the saddle of a properly adjusted road bike. Your knee should just be slightly bent when your foot is on the pedal in the six o'clock position. You can usually put your feet flat on the ground when you are off the seat and straddling the top tube. To start riding, straddle the top tube with one foot on the pedal in the forward position and one foot on the ground. Push down on the pedal while you push off with the other foot and hop into the seat.
Thanks for the answer, I read all those basics, and my problem I know it isn't to ride a bike, my problem is to mount it. When someone helps me, I am on the saddle, my toes touching the ground. When I am trying to do it, i cannot, it is too high, though the saddle is on the lowest. Then i wanted to stand over the top tube, but as I said, it was the only one bike in the store in my town which "fits" me. Half of my feet being on the ground and top tube hurting my body. So, i tried to put one leg on pedal, right one and then do the thing, but it seems imply I cannot do it. All I wanted to know, guys is this: If when standing over top tube I touch the ground with half of my feet, and top tube touches strongly my body, but all the rest on the bike is okay, is is enough safe for me if I learn to dismount with leaning over the bike? I know to ride the bike, I just cannot get onto it. Or, is there anyway to adjust top tub, to make it lower? It is hurting me and doesnt give me enough space when I want to mount on bike.
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Old 08-01-17, 05:23 PM   #17
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Thanks for the answer, I read all those basics, and my problem I know it isn't to ride a bike, my problem is to mount it. When someone helps me, I am on the saddle, my toes touching the ground. When I am trying to do it, i cannot, it is too high, though the saddle is on the lowest. Then i wanted to stand over the top tube, but as I said, it was the only one bike in the store in my town which "fits" me. Half of my feet being on the ground and top tube hurting my body. So, i tried to put one leg on pedal, right one and then do the thing, but it seems imply I cannot do it. All I wanted to know, guys is this: If when standing over top tube I touch the ground with half of my feet, and top tube touches strongly my body, but all the rest on the bike is okay, is is enough safe for me if I learn to dismount with leaning over the bike? I know to ride the bike, I just cannot get onto it. Or, is there anyway to adjust top tub, to make it lower? It is hurting me and doesnt give me enough space when I want to mount on bike.
You can't adjust the top tube. If you can adjust the seat so that your leg is slightly bent when the pedal is at the lowest position and you don't feel like you are reaching too far for the handle bars, then you can probably ride the bike despite the frame being too big for you. I have one bike like that. Tilt the bike to to the side opposite of the foot you have on the pedal while you are straddling the top tube. Then as you step on the pedal and push off with the other foot, straighten the frame and hop on the seat.
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Old 08-01-17, 09:00 PM   #18
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Mindreader - Yeah, as said, it's completely fine to lean the bike like that to get on/off and to start/stop. When you push off to start pedaling the bike will straighten back up. My bike fits me but I still have to lean it a bit to get my leg over the saddle when I'm mounting and dismounting. I also just naturally lean the bike a bit when I'm getting ready to push off with the one foot on the pedal, to start moving.




I know the original post is really old but wanted to comment on that part anyway...I definitely forgot how to ride a bike. It had only been about 10 years or so since I last rode. My son had just gotten his first real bike, so I went and grabbed one off CL too so we could ride together and so maybe he wouldn't be as nervous since I would also be riding. I couldn't even test ride the bike when I went to get it. The guy tried to help me but he lived on an awfully busy street and I needed more room than the sidewalk lol. So my son and I went to a big empty parking lot with a slight slope that led into a decent flat section. I just did what others above have mentioned...coasting first and such. It came back pretty soon after though.
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Old 08-02-17, 02:19 AM   #19
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Ride across a grass field so if you fall it doesn't hurt so bad.
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Old 08-02-17, 05:04 AM   #20
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Barring some past brain trauma, your body/brain will always remember how to ride a bike, but your adult brain is more afraid of mishaps than your kid brain was. It will be far easier to restart bike riding on a short bike.
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Old 08-02-17, 07:31 AM   #21
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Barring some past brain trauma, your body/brain will always remember how to ride a bike, but your adult brain is more afraid of mishaps than your kid brain was. It will be far easier to restart bike riding on a short bike.
Well, I know that now but I cannot find shorter one in my town even if I dont regret money. It is only what i got and I gave big money for it.
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Old 08-02-17, 07:35 AM   #22
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Anyway, guys, thanks a lot for the answers. I just have three more ques and then I won't be annoying so much. About the top tube, I am the woman, and the woman with overweight, and this top tube one is you know, horizontal. When I stand over it in shoes, it is very tight but it is not impossible to ride. Then I put my right foot on the pedal and when i am trying to hop, saddle just hitting me too much in my lower back. Cause it is male saddle. But I tried it today and I can feel it is only my fear, and that it is not impossible at all. Now, if anyone can give me the answer: should I buy somewhere some female bike to practice, or I can go without it? Thanks to all of you, you really halped me.
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Old 08-02-17, 11:10 AM   #23
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I didn't have to "re-learn" how to ride a couple years ago when I got into serious cycling. It was, well, like riding a bike. But, I admit I was a bit nervous and not as confident at first on my return to riding, but after a few hundred miles I felt like an old pro.
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