What if you are now told that it’s never too old to learn to ride a bike and an adult can actually master the magic of moving without his feet touching the ground in a saddle within a half-hour as a juvenile cyclist rushes in the neighborhood? After all, millions of adult attempts and instant successes have underlined the point. Take your vehement passion with following recipes step by step, and you will learn to ride a bike in 30 minutes. Seriously, with the least pain!
- Be confident and determined.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you cannot ride a bike as an adult for the minute you made the decision you almost learn the riding. The positive attitude should be better late than never. As it always works, cycling should be the easiest sport following jogging, for which it’s time to surmount your grown-up fear of tumble. As an adult, you can try to ride a scooter first to get your balance and confidence then move on to a bike.
If you've had a vigorous day or are excited, these are good days to start at leisure. “You have to want to ride. All the rest is commentary."
- Equip yourself.
- A bike that fits
Visit a bike shop and buy the bike, perhaps a mountain bike, that you believe you will continue to ride once you're mobile after consulting the assistants who know bikes much better than a beginner. When you purchase a bike, you aren't going to use the standards that most experienced bike riders do, which is to get a bike with a seat tall enough so that you can fully extend your leg. Instead, get a bike that's big enough so that you don't feel cramped riding it, but when you do lose your balance or need to stop fast, your feet will touch the ground without getting off the seat. When you buy the bike (seats are adjustable easily) make sure you can put both feet on the ground easily for those panicky moments early in biking. You'll lose some efficiency in your pedal, but what you'll gain in confidence will be a worthwhile trade-off.
When you are concentrating on balancing and steering, you don't need the added distraction of fiddling with shifters and hand brakes. A coaster brake works by just pedaling backward. Besides, training wheels are out. They enforce bad habits and do not give a realistic feel for how a bicycle behaves. With no training wheels, you’ll how to balance the correct way. As for kids who use training wheels, they will take up to 2 years longer to learn to ride a bike than kids who use balance bikes or scooters. So will you.
If you are distracted by the forthcoming new bike abrasion, get one of the simplest, cheapest bikes available--used will also do.
It sounds time-consuming to get a bike that suits you, but “preparation may quicken the process”.
- Road cycling protective gears
A helmet is recommended. You absolutely must wear a helmet. Head injuries can happen in a fall you have no control over. They're not common, but few people cannot relate at least one story of someone who was saved or not saved by a helmet. It's also the law in many places. Knee and elbow pads can be prepared if you're “delicate”.
You won't require any other specialized equipment until you go Tour de France because you'll be going pretty slowly at first with your foot (or both) down before anything serious happens. Just wear your outdoor activity clothes. Make sure the helmet covers your forehead, and buckle it.
- Find ideal places for bike learning
Even smaller suburban towns often have very busy roads, and you don't want to tackle these until you're very comfortable. Find an empty parking lot, empty bike trail, not-very-busy street. Practice riding your bike in a park or in a parking lot without cars, until you feel comfortable with it.
Take the bike where the road is slightly downhill (the idea is that you would not have to worry about pushing the pedals), then let go of the brakes and let the bike roll slowly. This actually helps you get over the fear of motion. What will surprise you is when you get to a flat land after the downhill part, you can pedal the bike like a boss!
Again, if the probable tumble troubles you during the learning process, try and ride a bike with somewhat wide tires on a lawn, which will make falling less dangerous, but a harder surface is usually easier to cycle on.
- Get a friend who knows how to ride a bike.
Make sure he shows you how the brakes and pedals work before you start out. A responsible friend, for one, will teach you right from the basics which could emancipate you from reading with confusion all instructions word after word; for another, will protect you from falling down by holding the saddle running along at your side and slightly behind you after the bike leaning leads to your losing balance. This sense of security from your friend is the most reassuring guarantee that renders you the slightest hesitation and concentrated absorption into learning and practicing.
- Get on the bike.
- Remove the pedals. For adults, remember to put the seat at its lowest position until you can put your feet flat on the ground.
- At the top of the slight slope, get on the bike. You'll have your feet on the ground. Practice grabbing your brakes (if hand-operated) or work on the motion to pedal backward (if a coaster brake).
- Push off slightly, and "walk" or stride with your bike down the slope, or along the flat ground. You will be shaky at first but nothing to worry about. Your feet will keep you up.
- At first, just work on going straight and find your sense of balance. Practice with your brakes, very gently at first. Gain your balance within a few sessions. You won't be completely steady for the first few sessions, but it grows with every experience.
If you find it hard to balance while traveling in a straight line, try to keep your head above the center of the handlebars and the center of your body in line with the center of the bike. Mostly I find if your head is in the right spot, your body will follow. If your head is twisted or hanging over one side of the center line of the bike or the other, it is harder to balance. Keep both hands on the grips.
Keep striding/walking straight with your bike until you feel comfortable keeping your legs up off the ground for long periods at a time. Try scooting along on the bike, just like on the scooter. Lift your legs up and coast once in a while.
- Keep the speed fast. On a bike, you are relying on rotational inertia to keep you upright. The faster you go, the harder it is to fall over. Taken to the extreme, if you were going 200mph on a bike, you could hang completely off the side and the bike wouldn't fall over because of all the force keeping the wheels in their current plane of orientation. It will occur to you that the faster the wheel turns the more stable you are.
- Don't panic brake. Instead apply pressure slowly. Keep holding the brakes to an extent so that the bike won’t accelerate downhill. You will maintain control of the bike without having a wheel lock up and slide out, or tip you over the front. You might have been told not to use the front brake, but using the back brake only did not prevent the bike from accelerating downhill! Therefore, it will work to use both the brakes gradually in order to slow the bike down and maintain a constant speed.
- Then practice turning. You will discover once you get up to a certain speed, you will lean more and "steer" less.
The bad habits to overcome are steering and speed. You'll need to get comfortable with these two before actually riding a bike. All vehicles piloted by an adult other than the bike rely on turning the steering device such as wheel and lever in the direction you want to go. A bike, on the other hand, requires you to turn the opposite way you want to go to initiate the lean that actually changes your direction. Even people who have ridden bikes their whole lives don't realize this.
Basically, by steering away from the direction you want to go, you create the beginning of a fall to the side you do want to go to. You then immediately turn back into the fall to control it. Turn a little sharper into it and the bike goes upright, you stop your controlled fall, and you go straight. Learn that you turn by leaning, not by turning the handlebars.
Try a left turn at the beginning. Firstly, remember to slow down, look through the turn, press the handlebar in the direction you want to go and slowly roll on the throttle as you glide through the turn. Secondly, as you slow down, turn your head to look at the end of the turn. Your bike will follow your eyes. If you look straight ahead, you will go straight ahead. Thirdly, press on the side you want to turn. If you are making a left turn, press down on the left handlebar. This will cause the bike to lean to the left. Lean with it and slowly roll more on the throttle to slightly increase your speed. As you come out of the turn, let off the throttle and the handle bar and the bike will return to an upright position.
- Once you have found your balance going straight and turning, then put the pedals on. Raise the seat a small amount so you can still touch the ground with your feet but not feel too crunched up with your feet on the pedals.
- Push off, find your balance, and then pedal. As before, work on going straight first. Once that is under control, work on turning. Most turns you'll "coast" (not pedal) through.
It seems complicated to follow all the tips above that intent to show you how to learn to ride a bike in detail but experienced riders don't realize it's happening and eventually, you won't either. On the other hand, here is a simplified procedure you can comply with lest you are impatient of reading instructions and dauntless for the possibility of fallings and injuries.
- Get on bike and pedal.
- Fall down.
- Repeat step 1) until you can avoid 2).
Don’t be frustrated by your failure. Though many learn to ride as very young children, the pattern is usually the same- hesitancy, fumbling, fighting for balance…But yes, this can be easily done in a half-hour and as you begin riding much else will come relatively naturally. Whether to follow the detailed recipes or the simplified one, you can truly learn to ride in half an hour after decades of envying the others’ cycling life. Then, it took some more practice to be actually good at it.
When you have learned something thoroughly, it means you are able to do it without conscious thinking - it should be taken care of by your brain without much conscious effort. When you are learning to ride a bicycle, you learn to have a notion of your speed, balancing the bicycle etc. After learning thoroughly, you will find that you will no longer require much conscious effort to balance and control your speed.
Once you are riding, try different terrain and ride like the wind! Mud, grass, pavement, hard gravel, loose gravel, ups, downs, puddles. You'll have that childhood feeling of being Superman or superwoman! It never leaves you as a rite of passage, no matter how long you live.