How to Teach Anyone to Ride a Bicycle
Sometimes we take for granted that we know how to ride a bicycle. In today's world, children have so much to choose from to entertain themselves, that they don't always learn how to ride a bicycle. Or, it has been YEARS since we rode a bicycle and need a refresher.
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Also, here is a simple step by step way to get anyone started on riding a bicycle.
There are two options, depending on your soon-to-be Rider.
Option 1: A slight sloped grassy area.
-This is good for anyone who isn't the most coordinated and may fall. This gives them somewhere to fall that won't hurt so much. Plus the grass will help slow them down, so they can slowly work on their balance. The slope helps them get rolling with less effort.
Option 2: An open parking lot or space.
-This is good for anyone that is “kinda” coordinated and doesn't want/need the grass to give resistance, or a slope to get them moving.
When learning to ride a bicycle, you want your Rider to feel safe. If they do not feel safe, they are less likely to actually try to learn how to ride. This is one of the main reasons everyone quits trying.
So, lets make sure we do as much as possible to make everyone safe and feel safe.
First step we already covered - picking a location that is best suited for said rider.
Second, safety gear on rider - helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and/or long fingered gloves; whatever makes the rider feel safer. Let them put it all on, it gives them ownership and feel in control, because remember we want them to be in control of the bicycle. If they do not want to wear safety gear - explain why it is so important (it helps if you wear yours). A helmet is the most important safety gear anyone can wear.
Third, make sure the bicycle is the proper size and safe. When a bicycle is too big or too small is makes it a lot harder for someone to learn to ride. Check the bicycle before you go out for you ride. Are the tires aired up? Are the brakes working?
When someone is willing to learn a new skill, there is a little bit of fear that comes with the excitement. So, as the one trying to teach, we need to remember Patience and Positive reinforcement.
Start by teaching one skill at a time. Do not over load someone. Sometimes they pick up quickly on a skill, but sometimes there is just one part of riding they struggle with. Let them know that is OK, and give them time to master it before moving on.
BALANCE & STEERING
Balance & steering are the first thing everyone needs to learn. A way to make this a little easier is to take off the pedals of whatever bicycle you are using and lower the seat to where their feet are flat on the ground. This way your rider can walk/run on the bicycle and then simply lift up their feet and coast. Learning how it feels, but being able to stop quickly without fear. When coasting in a straight line is mastered, move on to coasting in big loops. Showing them how to turn (steering). Set up cones or an object on the ground they have to go around. Once your rider shows confidence, slowly move up the seat a little until they are on the balls of their feet. Once they have mastered balance and Steering time to put the pedals back on.
You may want to put the seat back down where the rider can feel confident in putting their feet down, if need be. With someone holding the bike (or having the bike in a bike stand that can support the weight of the bike and rider), ask the rider to close their eyes. Once their eyes are closed ask them to put a foot on the pedal. No cheating and opening their eyes! Once they feel the pedal, ask them to put that foot down and now do it with the other foot. Do this back and forth until they easily find both pedals. Then have them find both pedals at the same time (again someone supporting the bike). When they feel confident in knowing where the pedals are it is time to start combining skills. Explain that pedaling is just like a walking motion. Encourage them that they already have mastered all the skills - balance, steering and finding the pedals. Now is the FUN part, they get to fly! Ok, not fast yet, but once they get the hang of pedaling, riding your bike some times feels like you are flying! Start off asking them to pedal straight, then in a large circle, then figure 8s. Once they are rolling smoothly and confidently, it’s time to move the seat back up to the correct position. Run through the courses again. Ask the rider how they feel? Is there anything they would like to go over again? Encourage them in how well they are doing.
Now, Ride with your rider! Once your rider has mastered the skill of riding a bicycle - take them places they can ride. Ride around with them. The more they can ride right away they better they will get and remember everything they have learned.
Let’s have fun and #BikeItOut!