Super Motivated (Adult) Student!

Ogochi I got an email from Ogochi several weeks ago asking me about adult lessons, and I asked her if she had a reliable bike.  Her response: “Yes, I recently purchased a bicycle, assembled it & just need to take the next step of learning to ride.”  Wow, that is one motivated student.  I was a little nervous about a new rider assembling her own bike and asked that she take it to the bike shop for a quick safety check.  She later told me it was just the easy parts she assembled (still, that’s pretty impressive for someone completely new to bikes).

When she arrived, she was ready to go.  And all smiles.  When she’d get nervous, she’d laugh nervously.  The good news.  She was balancing very quickly and we were able to advance through all the parts of the lesson fairly quickly.  I’m so glad that she got the urge to get a bike and learn to ride it, as she is a natural.  There were times she’d swerve this way and that, but she’d quickly correct her direction.  She mastered starting the bike right away, too

After we were done, we discussed bike safety and riding in traffic on roads.  We also had to wrestle her bike rack a little bit.  She was in great spirits and very proud as she left. 

Proof positive once again that it’s never too late to learn.

Giving it a shot!

Jill A very accomplished, eight-year old Shot Putter named Jill visited today to learn to ride a bike.  Plus, her five-year old brother, Caden.  The two of them were full of questions, energy, and enthusiasm.  It was a warm day, but both kids didn’t seem to notice.  Interestingly, Jill is accustomed to proper form when throwing her shot put.  But on the bike, she had to learn to relax the top half of her body.  Her arms were often stiff and straight.  When Caden first started the lesson, he had to learn to keep his feet on the pedals (he’d say the pedals would turn and his feet would slip off!).

Although both are fast runners, when the bikes starting getting just a little bit faster, they got nervous.  We got past that, and had fun with the slo-motion fall to remind them that the ground is very close and there’s not a big deal with a little scrape.  Eventually, we made the decision to have Cade practice what he learned at home to get a little further and let me focus just on Jill.

Within a few tries, she was getting better and better and then…target achieved.  Jill was riding on her own.  That’s when I saw the biggest smiles of the day.  Now it’s time for both to practice and get more comfortable.  Congrats on learning to ride, Jill.  And Cade, you’re almost there!

These Two Never Quit

CandO Today, my students were two sisters, Claire (9) and Olive (7), and these two were a lot of fun to teach to ride.  Teaching two siblings at the same time always presents pro’s and con’s.  The younger one always wants to do as well (or better) than the elder, which helps with motivation, but also can push them a little too hard.  But Olive was up to the challenge.

Both listened well and picked up on all the tips and techniques.  Claire quickly got to a good form and was on her own.  Meanwhile, her sister would watch me let go of her shoulder and see her riding on her own.  So Olive naturally said she wanted me to let go of her, too.  With her being two years younger she wasn’t quite ready for that (as she was weaving a little too much), but you have to admire her bravery.  Not sure I recall any student ever asking to be let go.  Quite the opposite.

They both had bells on their bikes so we’d ring them whenever something good happened which was often.  Claire is a full graduate of the class (and even asked for one more round after she was done), and Olive is really close and probably will be riding 100% on her own in her next practice (she was on her own a little bit her and there).

Both girls had great attitudes and Olive kept me laughing the whole two hours!  When wrapping up, we talked about how they both overcame their fear or lack of ability to succeed in biking.  And their mom reminded them that their family motto is “Never quit.”  No doubt!  Enjoy the new freedom of cycling girls!

Eyes on the Prize

Aadhya Today, nine-year old Aadhya came by for a lesson with her new pink bike.  And it was an early one, 8:15 AM.  Usually, I run at that time to avoid the heat of the day, but Aadhya’s mom had the same wish.  So we started early although it did warm up pretty fast anyway.  Aadhya had good balance from the start, but she had a (common) fascination with the ground below her feet.  Many kids want to look down instead of where they’re going.  It took a lot of practice to get all the elements of cycling in place.  Since she’s a great listener she knew what to do and just had to apply it.  Stopping was a bit of challenge as she had to think about which pedal to push backwards/down.

Even towards the end of the lesson, she’d feel more comfortable peeking at the ground below her. I told her she had to stare at something in the distance and aim the bike towards it.  We set goals for making it all the way down the street without looking down.  And then, she had a short snack and water break.  After that was her big moment to shine.  She could get all the way down without my help.  Soon after, all the way down and back.  She was riding solo.  We were both sweaty and tired at that point.  Even though the day was just beginning for all the neighbors!

Congrats, Aadhya!  Nice job overcoming your fears (even after stopping abruptly a few times) and learning to ride!

The FIRST Adult Cyclist!

vini What an adventure today.  Vini is the mom of Anika, who learned to ride with me a year ago (her story).  She has seen Anika flourish on the bike and really wants to ride with her.  So she bravely came for a lesson on her brand new bike.  It’s a big deal and a harder lesson for lots of reasons.  The bike is bigger and it’ll turn very easily.  Plus, it is heavier and will lean for a new rider. 

In a lot of ways, Vini had the same experience as the kids.  Except she can communicate her frustration and fear better than a kid.  We made many adjustments to get her more comfortable and be relaxed.  Another challenge is I have to have a really firm grip on her shoulder to ensure I can help her balance while running really fast to keep up with the larger wheels.  We had to learn proper braking early in the lesson for that reason.

During the lesson, rain would come and go.  We worked through some of it, took a break through some harder stuff.  Then she really started to get it.  It’s cool to hear how it feels from an adult perspective on how the lesson gets easier as she’s learning to ride.  Kids have a hard time putting this into words.

Vini was making minor adjustments and continuing to progress as the rains returned.  We snuck in a few more runs up and back, but then the heavens really opened up and it started pouring.  And lightning!  Very near by.  After checking the weather map, it was clear it would be a while before it cleared up.  So, I took her bike hostage and kept it so she’d come back and finish her lesson.  (It was raining so hard, we’d be 100% soaked in seconds trying to get the bike back into the car.)  She was happy with that plan as she doesn’t want to practice yet without my help, plus she doesn’t know how to start yet.  I’m looking forward to Part II of her lesson soon so we can finish what we started.  So close!

Going on a Picnic

lolo Today’s student was six-year old, Lolo.  She was such a character.  Lots of smiles and creativity.  For the first time, I started a lesson in the rain.  She didn’t notice the sprinkles at all.  She had a great, new bike with fat tires (I’ve never seen that on a small kid’s frame–pretty neat). 

Lolo was much further along in balance than she realized.  She just was so nervous.  But even so, every time we went up and down the block (and we did many, many times), she would dream up where we were going.  To the fair, to a picnic, to space.  At one point, we were even in a race.

But when she got even closer to riding solo, she was going faster and would ask me to stop running.  Which is funny, because I was only going as fast as her.  So I had to show her how “slow” I was actually running and even raced her on foot to show her how much faster she can run than I was (and not fall down). 

As usual, I learned a new tactic.  She would only feel comfortable when I’d be in contact with her shoulder.  Even a pinky would suffice.  I’d tell her I’m not really helping her at all with one pinky, but it was her security blanket.  So I had to invent a game of “nearby, on.”  A cycle of hand’s off and hand’s on (where “hand’s off” meant my hand was nearby, close to her back).  That way, she could expect what was going to happen.  Eventually, this worked.  I made the “nearby” cycle much longer than the “on” cycle and eventually even said “on” when I was only nearby.  She didn’t even notice–she was riding on her own.

The sprinkles didn’t ruin this picnic.  It was a long lesson, but well worth it.  Lolo learned to ride!

Karate Kid Learns to Ride

Cale Today’s student was six-year old, Cale, who has participated in a lot of sports, including karate.  I think karate really helped Cale’s balance once he knew what that entailed.  Probably more than he realized.  Cale was definitely paralyzed by fear.  He listened very carefully, was super polite, and would practice exactly what we talked about on each run.  Like many before him, he needed to think more about “fixing” what was taking him away from riding, and less on how much I was “helping” him.

Once he had a lot of this mastered, I took my hand off his back and started clapping.  Several times.  He was concentrating so hard on what he was doing, it didn’t register with him that he was riding on his own.  I had to mention to him when we finished that, during that run, I was clapping.  Which requires two hands…do the math.

Cale had one critical moment.  As we were getting close to done (working on turns, starting, and stopping), he took a spill in a turn.  Immediately there were waterworks (not even a scrape though).  His confidence was shaken.  It happens.  He wanted to see dad, but fortunately, we were at the other end of the block and I said when he clears his eyes so he can see, we’ll ride back to him.  By time we did, we were able to take a water break and continue without a “dad break.”  It takes bravery to continue, and he did (although still worried about another spill).

So now, it boils down to practice and reminding himself that the “switch” has been “turned on” and he just needs to keep applying everything he learned.

Congrats on battling your fears and winning, Cale.  Even when the karate kid was down on the matt for a moment.


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