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Learning to cycle for the first time and struggling.

Old 06-28-19, 04:52 PM
  #1  
Priyank
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Learning to cycle for the first time and struggling.

Hello, everyone. I am 25 years old, 5'6" and, as the title says, learning to ride for the first time. I am using a 27. 5 inch wheel bike, on which I can have my feet planted flat on the ground while seated. I looked over youtube and some other places about how to go about this. Almost all resources mention 2 steps: 1) removing the pedals and scooting with both feet and trying to learn balance 2)installing one pedal at a time, resting one foot on the pedal and kicking off with the other and try to coast and balance.

I cannot remove the pedals from this bike as it doesn't belong to me, so I am trying to learn straight from step 2. The problem I am facing is that after kicking off with my free foot, I can only coast for 3-4 seconds before my balance fails. I have been at this for 5-6 hours over the past 3 days. Part of the reason may be that since I am overweight, my kick offs are not producing enough momentum, but sometimes I do get good speed and even then my time is around 3-4 seconds still. Is there anything I can do to improve this and learn to balance better?

Thank you for taking time to read my post. Any help or insight would be grearly appreciated.

EDIT: fixed typos.

Last edited by Priyank; 06-29-19 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:10 PM
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Try to find a grassy hill with a very gentle slope and coast down it slowly, lightly dragging your feet for balance. Maybe there's a park or something like that nearby.

If you can't get up enough speed (maybe 5 mph) it's really hard to maintain balance. It gets easier to balance if you go faster, but yes, it can be intimidating.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Try to find a grassy hill with a very gentle slope and coast down it slowly, lightly dragging your feet for balance. Maybe there's a park or something like that nearby.

If you can't get up enough speed (maybe 5 mph) it's really hard to maintain balance. It gets easier to balance if you go faster, but yes, it can be intimidating.
This is great advice! The downhill slope will help you build momentum, and if it is grassy (and soft) the consequences of falling are not too bad.

My other advice is that you keep at it! I don't recall learning to ride a bike -- I was about five years old. But I did later learn to juggle, and after many hours, it finally just "clicked." I predict the same will happen with you and the bike.

Good luck!
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Old 06-28-19, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Priyank View Post
Hello, everyone. I am 25 years old, 5'6" and, as the title says, learning to ride for the firdt time. I am using a 27. 5 inch wheel bike, on which I can have my feet planted flat on the ground while seated. I looked over youtube and some other places about how to go about this. Almost all resources mention 2 steps: 1) removing the pedals and scooting with both feet and trying to learn balance 2)installing one pedal at a time, resting one foot on the pedal and kicking off with the other and try to coast and balance.


I cannot rmove the pedals from this bike as it doesn't belong to me, so I am trying to lwarn stdaight from step 2. The problem I am facing is that after kicking off with my free foot, I can only coast for 3-4 seconds before my balance fails. I have been at this for 5-6 hours over the past 3 days. Part of the reason may be that since I am overweight, my kick offs are not peoducing enough momentum, but sometimes I do get god speed and even then my time is around 3-4 seconds still. Is there anything I can do to improve this and learn to balance better?


Thank you for taking time to read my post. Any gelo or insight woild be grearly appreciated.

Welcome! It will get easier.

I learned the other way round, didn't get a drivers licence until I was 30.


So, what you're doing is basically right. Because you can't push easily to keep your speed up, since the pedals are still on, use gravity ( not too much, just enough to be able to coast comfortably). What you need to find is a big, empty, slightly sloped parking lot. Like a Walmart, before it opens. or the side farthest away. The slope should be just enough so that you feel comfortable. Practice with braking as well, you'll get the hang of it. It's not a linear progression. You can't do it... You can't do it... Oh, just a little bit... and then at some point it feels natural. The time it takes is different for everyone, but unless there are neurological issues, it will become.... Like riding a bicycle.


Good luck, and give us an updated some point.

Cheers, Eric
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Old 06-28-19, 05:31 PM
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Keep at it. It probably is harder to learn as an adult. Sometime soon you will find the balance and that feeling of child like joy will hit you and the frustration will be left behind.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:51 PM
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When I was recovering from a neck injury I purchased a recumbent frame. A two wheeled short wheel based one with the crank higher than my butt. I had no trouble at speed but really slow and stopping at an intersection were a hazard. I fell over at a light once and a really large dog came over and smothered my face in kisses. It takes time for your brain to adjust to balancing the bicycle. Looking in the direction you want to go and not having a death grip on the grips or handlebars will also help. This is a new activity but you will learn faster if you can do it in a more relaxed state.
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Old 06-28-19, 07:21 PM
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I have to say that I have never seen an adult try this for the first time, so I really admire you taking this on. I really can't draw on anything but my experience being taught to ride, and teaching my two sons.


I'm pretty sure I disagree with the idea of scooting. As previously noted, keeping your balance at really slow speed is very difficult. I'd want to get you pedalling and up to speed as fast as possible. When you are going fast enough, the bike basically balances itself. If you have a friend willing to prop you up while you start pedalling, and walk alongside until you feel stable, that's the tried and true method my family has always used. Once you learn pedalling, getting started gets easier.

Please keep us posted on your progress. I'm rooting for you!
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Old 06-28-19, 08:34 PM
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If you can lower the seat you can take off the pedals. It only takes a 15mm or 9/16 or crescent wrench, unless itís a pretty nice bike. The left side is reverse threaded.
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Old 06-28-19, 08:38 PM
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Hats off to you. I suggest writing up a brief report when done. There are probably lots of people who want to know how to get started on a bike as an adult.
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Old 06-28-19, 08:54 PM
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Push off... Look for a place to fall... Fall... Get up... Push off... Look for a place to fall... Fall... Get up...

Thats it... Don't be afraid... we all did it! And some more than others.

For me more than Id like to admit...

Welcome to the forum... your going to love it.
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Old 06-29-19, 12:49 AM
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Bicycles are stabilized by the angular momentum of the wheels. The faster you go, the more angular momentum the wheels have, and the more effectively the bike balances itself. Once you get up to a jogging pace, the bike will start to become easier to ride. Tyrion’s advice sounds like a great way to learn what it feels like to get up to a stable speed. I’d definitely give that a shot if I were you.

I’d also try modifying the second step you described. Since planting one foot on a pedal and kicking off with the other foot doesn’t generate enough speed, I’d try the following. Straddle the bike and grab the handlebars. Position a pedal so its pedal arm is pointing straight forward, then plant a foot on it. Transfer your weight to the handlebars and to the foot planted on the pedal, like you’re ascending a step. Your weight will push the pedal into the downward position and turn the gears to get you going a bit. Just pick up your other foot a tad off the ground as the bike starts to go. Be ready to squeeze the brakes to stop the bike, and keep your center of gravity slightly towards the foot you’re going to step down with.

Best of luck.
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Old 06-29-19, 12:59 AM
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It's easier when you're moving faster because the bike automatically turns to help your balance. Keep doing the coasting thing, try to relax so that you're not fighting it, and when you get more confident with that then do it with your feet on the pedals.
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Old 06-29-19, 01:11 AM
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Thank you all so much for all the advice and encouragement! I will try to incorporate all the tips shared here so far, both for scooting and for trying to learn to peddle first(my brother usually accompanies me, so we will try and see if trying to prop me up is possible for him). And yes, I will keep this thread updated with my progress(or lack thereof, hah!)

I have one more question, I have tried to get both feet on the pedals a few times and while I do manage to find the other pedal with my free foot(left) after kicking off, I find it rather hard to push down, is it normal for the left pedal to be a bit "stiffer" than the right one?
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Old 06-29-19, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Priyank View Post
Thank you all so much for all the advice and encouragement! I will try to incorporate all the tips shared here so far, both for scooting and for trying to learn to peddle first(my brother usually accompanies me, so we will try and see if trying to prop me up is possible for him). And yes, I will keep this thread updated with my progress(or lack thereof, hah!)

I have one more question, I have tried to get both feet on the pedals a few times and while I do manage to find the other pedal with my free foot(left) after kicking off, I find it rather hard to push down, is it normal for the left pedal to be a bit "stiffer" than the right one?
Any difference in 'stiffness' between pedals has to be imaginary. Another adult propping you up will hamper your progress and wear them out if they are doing it right. So I second the slope approach. That said, they do make adult training wheels. That would be another way to do it. Have the training wheels mounted high enough so there was a definite tilt to one side or another unless you actually got the bike balanced properly vertical. You need space no matter what. The sidewalk is not the place for this and only a cul-de-sac with no through traffic or parking lot or other smooth area will do. I don't think grass works, even short smooth grass is hard to roll on. You need to really get a sense of the glide and balance that you need.
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Old 06-29-19, 08:54 AM
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A downward slope would be great, but if you don't have that, here's how I was taught: Use a porch, or step, or concrete block, something about 10ish inches high. Bring the bike up parallel to the step and put the outside pedal at about the 2 o'clock position. Then, stand on the step and swing your leg over the bike and onto the pedal. Shift your weight to stand on the pedal. That exerts enough downward force to start your momentum. Once you're rolling from that first exertion, put your other foot on the inside pedal and you're off.

Keep at it. It's a rewarding way to spend time and get valuable exercise.
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Old 06-29-19, 09:40 AM
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Remember that, no matter what it looks like, bikes are constantly falling over when they're being ridden. The secret is to steer *into* the fall just enough to recover and start falling in the other direction. The net result is to stay upright.
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Old 06-29-19, 07:41 PM
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You must pedal

Pedaling and speed will help you maintain balance. The slow speed balancing is much more difficult.
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Old 06-29-19, 08:52 PM
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Lots of good advice here already.

Bicycling is a total body activity that involves your head, eyes, hands and arms, legs and feet. PLUS your sense of balance coupled to hand and eye coordination.

I agree with those who said find a slope and practice coasting down. When it "clicks" as another poster noted above, it will feel natural. The necessary physical intelligence will quickly increase once you have the hang of it.

Be prepared to take a spill. Most of us already have. Put another way, there are two kinds of cyclists: those who have already fallen over, and those who are going to.

Re, pedaling: you can practice the rhythm of pedaling on a stationary bike at the gym or at home. Just work on "knowing" where your feet are.

While I saw wheel size, I don't think I saw exactly what type of bike you are learning on. A relaxed or more upright position will feel less threatening than an aggressive posture such as what you get with a drop-bar road bike. So I would suggest a cruiser or comfort bike. A flat-bar bike may be ideal, but for learning purposes this early in I would suggest staying away from drop-bars.

And to echo another poster, be sure and write up a report. I admire the spunk of taking up this challenge as an adult, and would like to hear how you work it out.

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Old 06-30-19, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Rajflyboy View Post
You must pedal


Pedaling and speed will help you maintain balance. The slow speed balancing is much more difficult.

4 years ago, the local school district held a few times in June, on Saturday mornings, a bicycling clinic run by the lower school gym teachers: My daughter learned along with 29 other kids who signed up, to ride a bike in a couple of hours , by taking off the pedals in a gently sloped parking lot and kick/coasting. I was totally amazed.

Most of the kids were pedaling around by the end of the morning, and with basically no falls. (2 or 3 skinned knees out of 30 kids!)


To the OP, don't be discouraged by this, kids are lower to the ground, my daughter skied an "intermediate" slope at the end of her first day... You'll get it, endeavor to persevere.
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Old 06-30-19, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Remember that, no matter what it looks like, bikes are constantly falling over when they're being ridden. The secret is to steer *into* the fall just enough to recover and start falling in the other direction. The net result is to stay upright.
No, bikes do NOT constantly fall over while being ridden. What a dumb thing to say to someone learning to ride.
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Old 06-30-19, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Remember that, no matter what it looks like, bikes are constantly falling over when they're being ridden. The secret is to steer *into* the fall just enough to recover and start falling in the other direction. The net result is to stay upright.
Really.....

I've always been of the understanding that it's the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels that want to keep the bike running straight and upright, hence you physically having to lean to get it to turn in the in the first place.

Same for motorcycles.

Edit...And after reading more on the subject, it seems there is some merit to BlazingPedals description of what happens.

So I guess todays crash had nothing to do with my stupidity, and more with the bike wanting to fall over.

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Old 06-30-19, 11:25 AM
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balance bike .. historically that was the first bike ... no pedals just 2 wheels, & a handle..
front one you steered by turning it and turned it to keep your balance on that bike

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Old 06-30-19, 03:31 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by . Cranky . View Post
Bicycles are stabilized by the angular momentum of the wheels. The faster you go, the more angular momentum the wheels have, and the more effectively the bike balances itself. Once you get up to a jogging pace, the bike will start to become easier to ride. Tyrionís advice sounds like a great way to learn what it feels like to get up to a stable speed. Iíd definitely give that a shot if I were you.

Iíd also try modifying the second step you described. Since planting one foot on a pedal and kicking off with the other foot doesnít generate enough speed, Iíd try the following. Straddle the bike and grab the handlebars. Position a pedal so its pedal arm is pointing straight forward, then plant a foot on it. Transfer your weight to the handlebars and to the foot planted on the pedal, like youíre ascending a step. Your weight will push the pedal into the downward position and turn the gears to get you going a bit. Just pick up your other foot a tad off the ground as the bike starts to go. Be ready to squeeze the brakes to stop the bike, and keep your center of gravity slightly towards the foot youíre going to step down with.

Best of luck.
FWIW, angular momentum is not the source of balance in a bicycle. dave
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Old 06-30-19, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Priyank View Post
I have one more question, I have tried to get both feet on the pedals a few times and while I do manage to find the other pedal with my free foot(left) after kicking off, I find it rather hard to push down, is it normal for the left pedal to be a bit "stiffer" than the right one?
Nope.

The cranks are connected by a steel rod. One side moves the other.

That is, barring something like bad bearings that might have asymmetric effects.

You do have to "unweight" the opposite pedal some. You can't pedal forward and back at the same time.

My nephew was having troubles learning to ride. I think he was over-analyzing everything.

I got him one of those tag-along bikes and hoped he would learn some of the skills independent of the steering.

You could ride an adult sized tandem bike with someone (rent one if you wish). However, another similar concept might be to find an upright exercise bicycle to help develop the mounting, dismounting, and pedaling skills without risk of falling.

For riding, there is what is called "counter-steering". The steering towards a fall helps push you back upright. Over-compensating can be used to push yourself one direction or the other. But, it rapidly becomes just natural to the point on doesn't realize what one is doing.

Never ask someone "how to ride a bike". We do it, but really don't understand how we do it.
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Old 06-30-19, 04:24 PM
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I gotta remember the downward slope and balance bike suggestions. Just in case I get to train future grandkids, you know.

I was started on training wheels when I was a wee one, which didn't teach balance at all. So the transition from training wheels was like starting over again, with plenty of falls in the process.
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