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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 09-01-08, 04:39 PM   #1
MrCjolsen
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How insane is this?

My 12 year old nephew is your basic overachiever, both academically and athletically. He is a very competitive swimmer with a shelf full of trophies. He gets all A's in school and I think had the highest STAR test scores at his school. He has more common sense that the majority of adults I know and would not do anything stupid or dangerous if he thought it was stupid or dangerous.

He also does not know how to ride a bike.

Not that he isn't capable. I'm sure that given a bike and an afternoon, he could learn on his own no problem and be dusting many of us withing a few months. It's just that he never had any interest. All his life he's lived on a court that opens onto a busy street and never really had anyplace to ride to if he did know how to ride a bike. The elementary school he went to was totally un-bikeable (don't get me started on that). He's very practical, and since biking never had any utilitarian purpose, he never had any desire to do it.

He's also quite a smartass when he wants to be. Recently, we were talking about bikes and I described the sport of track racing. That piqued his interest. I said if he knew how to ride a bike, I'd take him to Hellyer park to one of their training workshop "newbie" sessions which they have on Saturdays. Then he gets the idea that he should go there in order to for him to learn how to ride a bike. We both thought that was pretty funny - that a person could actually learn to ride a bike at a velodrome. It's similar to the idea I had once of teaching my wife to drive a stick shift in the course of test driving a car with a manual transmission.

So the thought of doing this is now the one thing that might motivate him to actually start riding a bike. His mom likes the idea because I think she's paranoid him riding on the street.

Is this a super crazy idea? If you gave the kid a bike and a few laps, I'm sure he'd be riding just fine. At that point, would he be any less of a road hazard than someone who has been riding for years but never been to a velodrome or ridden a fixed gear?
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Old 09-01-08, 05:04 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen View Post
Is this a super crazy idea? If you gave the kid a bike and a few laps, I'm sure he'd be riding just fine. At that point, would he be any less of a road hazard than someone who has been riding for years but never been to a velodrome or ridden a fixed gear?
I'm not sure I trust the average veteran roadie less than someone who has been
on a fixed gear. The latter is just another bike. A roadie who can hold
a line in a crit gets more cred from me than the average kid on a fixed gear.
How much or how little of a hazard this kid will be has everything to do with
what you teach him and how quickly he develops skills. I'm not sure learning in
a velodrome or on a levee road will make much difference. He will still be green
until he logs enough time and miles that he isn't. It seems implicit in this
post that riding a velodrome is harder than riding somewhere else. Sure, riding
on a fixed gear on a velodrome with other skilled riders is hard. Going in circles
and turning left on newbie day doesn't seem hard per se. Some people
are a hazard even having ridden a fixed gear, perhaps because of it. Some aren't.
The rider's intentions and attention are more critical than where he learns to ride.
The throw him in the ocean to make him swim theory seems possibly harmful. It will
probably be easier to teach the kid to ride on a quiet street and then take him to the
drome for a reward once he is relatively safe.
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Old 09-02-08, 03:35 AM   #3
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i'd say teach him first then take him to the velodrome.
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Old 09-02-08, 04:05 AM   #4
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You can position this by saying you want to show him a few basics before hand that way when he gets to the drome he isn't awkward and uncomfortable on a bike. Tell him it will make it easier for him to learn at the drome. In reality you'll be giving him the foundations of riding a bike in YOUR controlled environment.
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Old 09-02-08, 05:21 AM   #5
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12 years old is kinda late to just start learning, i reckon every kid should learn to ride at least while they are in the early years of primary school. Your nephew also sounds like a proper snob in the making, maybe his ego will deflate somewhat with some learner rider crashes.
I plan on teaching my newborn son (now 1 week and 2 days old! ) to ride at a young age. However he will first start out on one of those like-a-bike things. Once his confidence and skills are good i will buy him him a bike with pedals!
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Old 09-02-08, 07:52 AM   #6
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I'd probably teach him to ride on a flat surface before you try and teach him to ride on a banked one.
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Old 09-02-08, 08:01 AM   #7
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take him to a park, with a bmx.

good luck !
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Old 09-02-08, 08:21 AM   #8
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i'd say teach him first then take him to the velodrome.
+1
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Old 09-02-08, 08:49 AM   #9
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You're going to put him on a track bike with no brakes? Kind of dangerous considering the kid never learned to balance on a bike to begin with.
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Old 09-02-08, 10:45 AM   #10
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If he his that talented, he should do just fine. ;0
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Old 09-02-08, 11:00 AM   #11
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if you teach him at the drome make sure you put it on youtube
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Old 09-02-08, 11:19 AM   #12
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he wont know how to turn right
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Old 09-02-08, 11:44 AM   #13
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he wont know how to turn right
+101
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Old 09-03-08, 01:45 AM   #14
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I used to live in an area with a large number of foreigners and one issue was many of the adult women did not know how to ride a bicycle (or swim). The community set up workshops which I was involved with to teach and empower them with the liberty and freedom of using their own means of transportation. I also have two riding kids of my own, and I definitely recommend that you consider teaching him how to ride and to find his balance first.

I offer the following tips that I read in some booklet years ago (has worked well for all ages):

1. Find a grass area with a slight downhill slope.

2. Lower the saddle on the applicable bicycle so that the person sited, can easily place both feet flat on the ground.

3. Start on the top of the slight hill, and have the person sit in the saddle, with both feet on the ground. Allow them to slowly roll downhill by having them slightly lift their feet up. Repeat this as necessary with the goal being to have them eventually placing their feet in the pedals.

4. After this point is reached, braking and stearing are taught on the same downhill slope.

5. Move to flat ground and practice starting and stopping.

6. That's it.

I have seen it take anywhere from 15 minutes to 8 hours for some people to get it. Don't fool yourself and think it has something to do with intelligence or amount of achievements, as it's much more primal than that. We are talking about learning balance and motoring skills to maintain it.

I also think you should try to encourage the usage of a helmet while doing this. Your nephew may protest, but once he gets over it, it might just make this difference in his future to use one.

Good luck!
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Old 09-03-08, 01:59 AM   #15
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12 years old and cant ride a bike?
Thats just weird.
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Old 09-03-08, 08:14 AM   #16
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I have a friend in her thirties who can't ride a bike. She put it on her list of things to do before she dies.
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