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Archive for September, 2008

Today it poured with rain. I wondered whether I should go and dithered and hovered at the window for quite a bit before I made my mind up.  I wondered if the bike168instructors were there.  I wondered if I would ever become a confident and independent cyclist.  I wondered if I would ever become fit. I wondered if, one day, it might rain and I’d have to ride to work in the rain considering the British weather.  I wanted to know what it felt like. Could I do it. How would I be able to cycle? What would it feel like? Curiosity got the better of me so I went, wrapped up for the weather, or so I thought.

 The instructors were there but now the rain had become heavier and heavier as I arrived. They debated among themselves whether to start the training.  I explained my reasonings to them hoping they wouldn’t think I was mad but, surprisingly, they didn’t.

No doubt seeing I was so eager, let me get on the bike, riding up and down the slight slope, practising the the dreaded U turn, leaning into the figure 8 between the trees but I didn’t get much more practise because my jeans and boots got absolutely soaked.  The rain had now become torrential.  It lashed on my face, spoiled my makeup and ran down the collar of my coat. I decided not to continue. Anyway I was the only one who turned up!    I know it sounds strange but I still felt  good to know I could ride in the rain.

The instructors told me to get waterproof jacket and trousers.  So I left the training to go shopping. It was easy to get a waterproof jacket but no such luck with trousers. Hope the weather’s better for the next lesson.

Ride Along The Thames

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tn_bike009_gifI can do it!  Cycle in a straight line, change gears, emergency stop, U-turns, figure 8, cycle in a circle. With so much practise I realised the best way for me to do these especially the signalling was to actually straightened my back and not put my hand up too high too suddenly.  Similarly with looking behind, I learnt to bend slightly whilst looking behind.  Its much easier that way. 

Again with the U turn, I needed to actually turn/steer (it sounds silly!) the front wheel more, slow down and keep pedalling and not worry about falling off.  The instructors were extremely positive and helpful, riding alongside, shouting out “you won’t fall off”, “keep pedalling”,  “slow down”, “look behind”.  Bless them.

I learnt to look, signal and look left and right up and down the slight slope and around in circles as well as on the straight path. They were adamant about looking all the time for our future safety, back, right, three times before turning right.

I admire the incredible patience of the instructors providing us with emotional support and not allowing anyone to give up.  I felt my confidence growing. They were very tolerant; no doubt due to the love of their sport. I can see why. They wax lyrical about being paid to do something they enjoy and love despite us trainees sulking, falling off, moaning  or groaning. Not that I ever moaned, mind you.  I love it  too much.  Wonder what’s up for  next  week.

Cycling In The Rain

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The second lesson consisted of getting on and off the bike, being pedal ready, getting used to cycling on the pedestrianised area. I made friends with some of the other learners who were from diverse backgrounds and ages. One thing we had in common was our desire to learn to ride later in women-cyclinglife. There were quite a few senior citizens as well.  One proudly announced she was 62 and another was 70.  She didn’t look it.

Some of the others were still learning to balance and pedal from last week so the  instruction was tailored to individual needs.  I had a huge grin on my face.  I couldn’t believe that I was cycling after all these years. It actually wasn’t that hard but learning to ride in a straight line was. I couldn’t follow the instructor who was riding in front. Follow me he said. It was so hard. I kept wobbling about all over the place.

After two hours, I felt a bit frustrated until one of the instructors told me to speed up.  I was going too slow which meant the bike wobbled everywhere but at least I didn’t fall off! One of the instructors reminded me what we did last week; that the bike steers itself by the front wheel or something like that!

Anyway I was hooked!  I couldn’t believe that I was riding a bike. It was so much fun but I wished I could do it properly.

How many fingers?  This was harder than it seemed.  Cycling and then looking behind.  The instructors were adamant about looking behind several times before turning around to go back up the slope.  Most of us managed a quick glance.  It seemed natural to look forward when you’re moving forward. So whenever I looked back, the bike went all wobbly. I thought I might bump into something or fall off.

I just enjoyed freewheeling down the slope feeling the wind on my face. It was great fun and I took every opportunity to practise my new found skill when the instructors weren’t looking. I couldn’t wait for my next  lesson.

Signal Like A Cyclist

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learnerWell, here I am.  My very first bicycle lesson. How did I learn to cycle? They kitted us out with their helmets, bikes and bright sleeveless jackets from their vans.  I was worried, the bikes looked so big!

 

We pushed the bikes using the saddle back up and down a slight slope in a tree lined wide pedestrianised area. If we could steer it competently we were then told to sit on it going down the slope i.e. learning to balance. 

We learned to sit on the bike and balance  it whilst walking down the slope. After a while, Jake, the head instructor called out to put one foot on the pedal on the way going down while the other foot was still on the ground.

After a while I heard a shout from behind me Put the other foot on,  as we careered down the slope.  Go on, put the other foot on the pedal. I did and all of a sudden I was pedalling the bike.  Feeling the wind in my face with the instructors riding next to me, ensuring my safety with lots of encouragement, I laughed out loud.  I did it! I did it! Wheeeeeeeee pedalling all the way down and up the slope.

And that’s how I learned to cycle on my very first lesson.  I don’t know why I waited soooo long. The feeling was exhilarating and I wanted more.

Stop Wobbling

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