If there was a ever a Bike 101 class, this would be it for me! After the series of falls from the bike last week, Mike offered to watch me on the bike to figure out what I was doing wrong and ride with me.
I was thankful and nervous, but the nervousness was not because of my incessant falling. When I fell the second time last week, it hurt like a #$%@&*. Hurt to the point of my eyes stinging. Of course, falling over hurts. But to know and expect to fall but mentally trying to block out pain isn’t very easy. So it wasn’t just the fear or embarrassment of falling, it was also the fear and embarrassment of showing that pain in front of Mike. But thank God for dark sunglasses that cover whatever emotions the eyes flash!
Lesson #1: Learn to be steady and balanced with one foot clipped in and one on the ground.
This was hitting the nail on the head because this was how I’d fallen both times – when I had already dismounted and put my foot on the ground. Trying to be steady and firm on the ground made me think about my center of gravity with the bike added in. How does my center of gravity shift and how do I position my foot and weight so that the shift in the center of gravity is countered?
I had to put my foot in front and way more out to the side than I was doing it. At the right position, one could sit on the bar without tipping over. And one could maintain their balance even if the bike tipped over with a foot still clipped in.
Lesson #2: Learn to coast.
(Wait, didn’t I just teach that to my minion while she was learning to ride a bike?)
Push off and coast before sitting on the saddle. Holy unsteadiness!! The lack of any type of core strength (and lack of leg strength) showed up significantly here. Mike was like a BMX rider on his road bike!
The coasting makes it easier during dismount, with one leg unclipped and poised to be placed on the ground. Something for me to work on.
Lesson #3: Learn to face your fears.
In all the prep nervousness, I must’ve forgotten that Mike rides on the road. ON THE ROAD WITH CARS! So when he said that we’d go for a short ride outside, oh the panic I felt! Again, thank God for dark sunglasses that cover whatever emotions the eyes flash!
The road to get out of the recreational park area was a nightmare for me! Tons of people and kids all hurrying around to various activities. There was a lot of braking and praying on my side!
Once we got out, it wasn’t too bad until Mike pulled up next to me. Was I nervous about someone riding so close, he asked? I wanted to yell HECK YES, I AM! I MIGHT WOBBLE AND TOPPLE, THEN YOU’D TOPPLE AND THERE’S THE TRAFFIC AND …. but I think I squeaked out a polite “yes” while maintaing a deathly grip on my handlebars.
The other times I really got nervous was when I had to come to a stop at the lights. What if I couldn’t unclip and dismount properly? Mike had faith that I could, I willed my brain to remember the earlier lessons and even though I might’ve caused a few cars to miss the turn light, I made it across safely!
Lesson #4: Learnt to use the right gear combination over hills.
There were a couple of short hills that worried me – what if I couldn’t get up and I fell over because I couldn’t get through! Mike was instructing me on the gears and I was surprised how much more smooth going up the hill felt!
Although I could not get off my saddle, I think I was too afraid to even try that. For now.
Pity, because I grew up riding a bike off the saddle. The bike I had as a kid was sizes way too big (that’s how a lot of Indian kids had it with hand me down cycles) and we always were off the saddle so we could follow through with the complete circle of the pedal movement.
So there it was – a ride on the real roads with cars! In spite of the nervousness, it was fun and I look forward to riding outside again.
The rest of the day seemed so tame compared to the high I got on finishing the ride! It was a gorgeous day and the minions and I went out to ride & run (And they left me in their dust. Sigh.). I did a bunch of cleaning and then finished it up with a movie night with the minions. All the energy from the morning carrying me through to the end of the day.
What tips can you share with someone who is learning to ride the bike outside on the roads?
Connect with me on other social media channels