How would you help a cyclist start all over again?

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by kneedrachen, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Mod Team Tavern Member

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    Situation:

    You have a wife with severe back problems which renders her relatively inflexible, which precludes most forms of exercise including yoga, even though it is a low impact form of exercise. You both have an infant and a demanding work schedule and need a form of stress release and exercise but she needs to remain upright. Your husband (a dashing, sensitive, and oh-so dreamy stud-muffin) suggests she gets a bike. A trip to the LBS seems to find salvation in a Specialized/Globe Carmel 3 Low-Entry. Payment is made, bike assembly begins, and the bike and a child trailer will both be picked up Tuesday night along with the above mentioned hubby's Synapse in for some tune-up work (free with purchase earlier this year).

    Subtext Along With Situation:

    My wife hasn't ridden a bike in over 20 years and is EXTREMELY hesitant/nervous to do so. In addition to the physical exertion/stresses placed on her body due to 1) her back issues 2) being out of shape (as am I) and 3) being off of a bike and not using the muscles, she's generally fearful of falling off. I'm not really sure how to proceed to get her to go forward and start riding once we pick her bike and the trailer up Tuesday night. Part of me wonders once I attach the trailer to my MTB if she will just want to catch up to my daughter and I or if she'll need some coaxing along or????? I've never taught anyone to ride before or anything so I've never done this before. I've never introduced anyone to cycling so I'm not sure the best approach, or what works most often. Do I tell her "Well, yes, falling is part of the game, you just pick yourself up off of the ground and get going again" or???? I don't want to scare her off so I'm not too sure what to do.

    I guess the bottom line is. . .

    "What's the best way to encourage/introduce/reintroduce a cyclist into riding again?"

    Thanks In Advance.
     
  2. JTGYK

    JTGYK New Member

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    This is especially effective for people who haven't ridden before.
    I wish I'd have known about this sequence with my wife:

    1) Take the pedals off and lower the seat so she can start with a "balance bike" mode and learn to trust that she can push off and coast. She can put her feet down any time she starts to feel uncomfortable.

    2) When she is feeling more confident, replace the pedals...but keep the seat low so she can get those feet back to the ground for her sense of safety.

    3) Once she feels less wobbly pedaling start gradually raising the seat to correct height.

    Practice by going around a quiet block or in an empty parking lot until she feels better about Braking and turning.

    If she's ridden a bike before...she may go through all 3 steps the first day.
     

  3. JTGYK

    JTGYK New Member

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    video including what I was describing:


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7HsWf8cbI"]Click here[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  4. retromike3

    retromike3 retromike3

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    trailer for you

    When I ran a retail bike shop I always thought it was a shame that mom got stuck with the less expensive bike and hauling the trailer wile dad had the more expensive bike alone. If I were you I would put the trailer on your bike and make sure her bike is as good or better than yours. The fact is that unless there is a major difference in your physical make up your are probably stronger than your wife, so giving you the trailer would even things up a bit. There are some bikes out there that are almost recumbents. that might make your wife a bit more at ease than the standard K mart special. Have you considered a recumbent? there not cheep but they are easy on the back. For me the best type of bike is the one that disappeared when I road it. It should go with you and let you enjoy the ride and not be thinking of the bike.

    Its a good idea to start out with small goals and just worry about going around the neighborhood. just go down to the store or around the block and see how things "feel". I would think of a place you can all go to "test out" your new wheels so that everybody is comfortable with getting on and off and turning as a group. Think of a park or a big empty parking lot, after that you folks might try a longer ride like a few miles, But I got some wise advice from a grate coach it was " eat before your hungry drink before your thrusty and rest before your tired."

    Something I might remind you of is this is not a race, riding with someone means that they are right with you and your not a distant speck on the horizon. You might even think about getting a tandem, that way you will never drop her and chances are you get there faster than if you rode by yourself.

    mike
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  5. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    With back issues a recumbent might really be the answer. This way she has a fully supported back.

    What your wife is experiencing is fear of the unknown. IF she rode a long time ago, she most likely can ride again without any big problems. She won't ride as far, as fast, but she still can ride. She just needs to be convinced. So I make three suggestions.

    First make sure she wears a helmet. This really isn't about the safety, though I believe it does add a great deal; I know there are are those that disagree. What it does is to give her more confidence that if she does come off the bike, nothing really serious will happen. It gives an "I'm protected" sense of security.

    Second take her someplace off road for a while she get reintroduced to the bike. Find a place level, and let her practice starting and stopping. When she has that down, make sure there is an emergency stop or two thrown in and she will see just how quickly she can stop and get out of trouble. Then add some bike control exercises with the goal of emergency avoidance.

    What no one will really tell you is their biggest fear is getting run over by a car. Once you have a knowledge of how quickly you can stop, how quickly you can dodge something in the road, you find the confidence level on the road goes up and she won't be as concerned. You want to teach confidence, NOT OVER confidence. Riding on the road involves risks, but we are not helpless out there. Once she understands the type of control she does have, not feeling like a sitting duck on the road makes one enjoy the experience.
     
  6. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Mod Team Tavern Member

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    Thanks for the input. We went with the Globe because she is most comfortable being upright and not having any pressure/lounging on her back a la a recumbent bike (although I dig them!).

    I'll be the one pulling the trailer, I have an older Trek 4300 that will be acting as the tug for it.

    It's not a race, it will be a leisurely pace until she's able to find a cadence and speed that she is comfortable with. Distance and speed will be for my solo rides on super early weekend mornings.

    She's concerned about me pulling the trailer in traffic, so we've decided we'll haul the bikes and trailer down to the boardwalk where there is a bike-path that we can ride on without the fear of cars, potholes, etc.

    We've already purchased a helmet for her and a helmet for my daughter who will be in the trailer, can't ever be too same IMHO.

    We went with the Carmel 3 700 Low-Entry because of her back/hips she can't get over a top tube, the Low-Entry negates this problem entirely. Nothing to do with her being a second-class citizen or anything like that riding a less expensive bike, I even doubt she'd even be able to negotiate a mixte frame. I'm just glad she'll be on two wheels.

    I'll try removing the pedals, we'll see how that goes.

    Thanks for all of the insight, I'll keep you all posted.
     
  7. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    Well to ease her fears about the trailer, and that sounds like a mom, how bout some flashing tail lights you could turn on day and night?? Most of the trailers have the tall flags on them, but anything you could do to make it more visible and draw attention to it couldn't be all bad. Have fun with the family. My wife wouldn't ride if I paid her with a clean house for 25 years. She knows better anyway, and I probably won't make it 25 more years anyway
     
  8. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Mod Team Tavern Member

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    Sounds like a good idea, thank you. I'll look into flashing lights at the LBS tonight.

    Again, thank you all for the insight.

    Ride Safe.
     
  9. soccert

    soccert New Member

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    has she tried trike
     
  10. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Mod Team Tavern Member

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    So we picked up the bike yesteday evening, and we got home without incident. I took the bike off of the rack and she sat on it for a minute and wasn't sure where to go from there. I explained that by having a pedal at the 2 o'clock position would make it easier to push off with (she didn't want help) and she took off like a bandit. A little wobbly at first but then took to it like a duck/fish to water. She was smiling as was I. She's hooked now!

    Thank you all for the advice and for checking in, I can honestly say we have a new convert to the fold! :love:
     
  11. TxCyclist

    TxCyclist Administrator Staff Member Admin Staff

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    Make sure to take her somewhere relaxing and without obstacles at first.

    Worse part of learning anything new is having to do with in an non-fun environment.
     
  12. soccert

    soccert New Member

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  13. JTGYK

    JTGYK New Member

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    I'm so glad that she remembers more than she thought she would!!!
    I remember my first ride after years off the bike....it felt like joy, freedom,and flying all in one.
    I remember giggling like a fool as I carved the corners, slaloming through a looong line of supports for shaded parking in a large lot.
    Ah!
    Good times!
     
  14. Cptn_Jon

    Cptn_Jon New Member

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    The wife and I each have a Recumbent Trike. The wife underwent hip replacement and spinal surgery in the summer of 2009. While in Arizona for this past winter season for 2009 we rode over 500 miles on the trikes. Upon our return home in April I had a homebuilt recumbent completed and enjoy it very much. With back/hip/wrist/balance problems I would highly recommend looking at a recumbent Trike (no balance problems). Here is a link to the build of me LWB recumbent. By all means keep it slow and easy getting her back on a bike/trike.

    New WildKat Recumbent Bike Build
     
  15. kneedrachen

    kneedrachen Moderator Mod Team Tavern Member

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    We'll probably stick to our block for now, we live on a horse-shoe block in a quiet development with super-low traffic. She doesn't want to tackle the bike lanes by the boardwalk just yet and I'm not going to push her for fear of turning her off to riding; I'll let her dictate the pace. We'll see what happens!

    Thank You all again for your suggestions and support, it has been a great help. This is what makes TwoSpoke such a great place to be! :thumbsup::D
     
  16. BeginnerCycling

    BeginnerCycling Active Member

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    Congratulations, that is great! My wife has back issues also, and has also had shoulder issues stemming from a car accident. Once her shoulder gets better, I'd like to get her to try some bikes -- she's apprehensive, but it would be great if she could ride with me and our 2 kids.
     
  17. photosbymark

    photosbymark New Member

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    Encourage every chance you get. Don't ever push. Most people are like my wife. If I push she pushes back. When she pushes back, she wins every time. For people with back issues recumbents are often the way to go, but not for everyone. Some find a great deal of benefit with the back support, but others find the bumps get transferred through the spine. For the timid the trike might offer a bit of extra peace of mind. For those with shoulder issues a recumbent would be one way to take that issue out of the picture.

    When you see some way to help a new rider, instead of "you are doing this wrong" how bout, "I find this works better for me for this reason. Try it and see if it works for you too." The rule of thumb when you teach is look for something good first. It may be small but find something and something that is true. Then comes the this might work for you too time. Then always end with something positive.
     
  18. BeginnerCycling

    BeginnerCycling Active Member

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    Good advice. When I used to teach college classes, this was called a "bad news sandwich" -- words of encouragement before and after, and in the middle the "you might consider doing __ differently".
     
  19. biker_on_a_budget

    biker_on_a_budget New Member

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    Nike says it best, "Just do it."
     
  20. SixtyPlus

    SixtyPlus New Member

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    Glad to hear you say your wife "took off like a bandit". Me and my wife are just getting back into cycling after many years. I've had my bike about a month longer than she, so my confidence level is a bit beyond hers right now. But, I have watched and coached and seen her go from a short ride to almost 9 miles for her yesterday after only a week! She is still intimidated by going down hill, but is catching on very quickly.

    It sounds like your wife is on her way and I bet you'll both be enjoying the ride real soon! Congrats!