Archive Page 2

A lot Buts, but riding nonetheless

SandA I had a double lesson today (which always is interesting) with brother and sister, Selim and Assia (7 and 10).  It’s always interesting to try and predict outcomes, too.  Assia was full of fear and chatted quite a bit, usually including a “but” statement.  “I’d like to ride, but I’m nervous.”  “I am listening, but I’m not able to do it.”  But, but, but.  Meanwhile, younger brother, Selim was willing to try anything, but equally nervous. 

The challenge with teaching “older” kids is they are bigger and their bikes (wheel diameters) are bigger, so they go faster without trying to.  With this in mind, we had to work on coasting right away.  The funny part was, pretty quickly, Assia was getting more and more confident and wanted her turn while Selim took his.  And the opposite, Selim was getting less excited (he had a few abrupt stops which threw him off a little).  He persevered and we kept on going.

Assia still had ‘buts’ right to the end; however, she was riding on her own.  Selim is going to practice some more and come back for some final fine tuning (but he is really close).  He may even get the last part on his own and not need more help.  Both kids smiled a lot and seemed to enjoy the journey.  Which will be important, as they are taking their skills across the pond to live in Paris very soon.  Lots of bike there!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Ben A local star of stage came by for a lesson today.  Ben, who plays Eric in “The Little Mermaid” at a local theater, needed to add cycling to his repertoire.  This nine-year old showed a lot of energy and listened well.  He had balance down fairly quickly and then keeping a steady wheel.  So we covered braking early in the session and I thought we had it, but not quite.  He’d take his feet off the pedals to put on the ground too soon, not allowing the coaster brake to bring the bike to a full stop.  This was his sticky part of the lesson.  I figured out part of the problem was not keeping the wheel straight when stopping (the bike swerved a little and he wanted to put his foot down faster).

My favorite moment of every lesson was quite euphoric today.  When Ben sensed he was riding without my help, he shouted out “Oh my God, I’m riding!”  We built on that quickly and he had all aspects going well by lesson’s end.  With some practice this week, it will all come naturally. 

Congrats, Ben, enjoy riding along with acting.  Break a leg acting–brake with pedals cycling!

Whoa, Charles is riding!

Charles The most popular word among my students is definitely “whoa.”  They say it when the bike serves left and right.  As if they avoided riding off a cliff.  I always say, “No whoa’s, just fix it.”  Think about how to get back to riding straight ahead. 

Charles got balanced pretty quickly, but he had a hard time keeping the wheel straight and his toes pointed straight ahead.  But, he was very persistent.  We had a rare afternoon lesson and we worked hard as the sun was getting low.

Charles had a “fun crash,” too.  He was heading straight for the curb, so I grabbed him (after a long day for me, I was glad he was only seven and I could pull him off quickly).  He added up under my left arm like a book, and I joked I couldn’t find him as I looked around with him under my arm.  We got a good laugh about that and quickly forgot about the mishap.

By the end, he was riding.  He still needs to practice to gain confidence, but as I always say, the little switch is his brain that helps with bike balance has been flipped to ON!

Keep at it, Charles.  Enjoy the ride!

Putting on the Brakes!

IanToday, eight-year old Ian came for a rare weekday lesson.  I knew immediately he would be riding by lesson’s end.  His balance was great from the start.  Sometimes my help is very subtle.  Ian just needed to keep everything straight (including the front wheel) and not overcorrect too much.

Of course, I always teach turning, starting, and stopping as the lesson goes on.  I’ve always said that stopping has three steps (reverse the pedals on the coaster brake, be sure to hold it there, and [only then] put your foot down on the ground).  Once Ian was biking well with very little of my help, we worked on braking.  At this moment I was reminded I forgot to mention the precursor to breaking:  slowing down by coasting before putting on the brakes.  Ian was one of my first students to lay down a skid on the pavement when he braked for the first time.  Kinda cool, actually.  Ian’s a bit quiet, but he had a big smile after that fun feat.

At the end of the lesson, Ian had it all down (pretty quickly, actually).  I asked him to be honest answering the question:  When you arrived here, did you really expect to be riding a bike when you left?  Like many before him, he shook his head.  I told him that learning to ride a bike is a lot like many things in life, in general.  You might not think you can do it, but in reality, you can.  You just have to be brave and give it a try.

Congrats on becoming the Bike Whisperer’s newest cyclist, Ian!

Straight to it

Cooper Eight-year old Cooper is a big fan of Geography and has plans with his family to bike in France this year.  One hitch, he didn’t know how to ride his bike–until today.  His balance was actually pretty good right from the start.  But one of his challenges was to keep everything pointed straight ahead (including his feet and left knee).  His left foot would even fly off the pedal.  So we worked hard on keeping everything straight and using coasting to ease off the speed when necessary.

I also locked in a new phrase to go with many others I say:  Start straight, End straight.  Mainly the front wheel.  Pretty important to keep the wheel straight when starting, but also when braking.

Cooper mastered it very quickly and did great.  With some solid practice over the next few days, he will be ready for International Biking! 

Congrats, Cooper (and his dog who came along to watch).

Two Tipsy Twins

HandH Yesterday, I was visited by twin six-year olds who were constantly in motion.  Even when standing still.  Hannah and Hunter were hilarious students as they learned to ride.  Asking a million questions or stating facts about everything or anything.

When kids come to learn to ride with me, the “classroom” chair is their bike seat.  They sit on it and I stand in front of them and share all my secrets/tips/tricks to riding with no training wheels.  These two would constantly be fidgeting (some need to move while they absorb information).  And, they’d tip over (often into each other) making levity the constant for our lesson.

Of course whenever there are two students, there is sibling rivalry.  I use a 0-100 scale to let the students know how close they are to “graduating” from my class.  Typically, students start hearing numbers from me after they cross 90.  In this case, that’s where the fun continued.  Each twin had to be higher then the other.  Fortunately, both had different strengths (and weaknesses), so we could brag on each them differently.  But still, both had to get to 100 first.  Basically, it was a tie–they both learned to ride at almost the same time.

Like with all students, they’ll need to practice.  But they advanced very far, very fast.  And two sets of training wheels can be put away for good.  Congrats H & H!

A Memorable Ride

RnR I was very fortunate to go on a very short ride today.  Only 13.1 miles.  But it was alongside the male racelead leader at the Dallas Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  At first there was a pack of six, but eventually, Jacob Krolick pulled ahead of everyone.  Then it was just me and him navigating the streets of Dallas.  My job was to make sure no one got in his way and we took the correct turns.

And if you know me at all, I couldn’t help but slip in some words of encouragement once in a while (there were some serious hills on the course).  Jacob was a joy to watch.  He was so consistent and strong, averaging 5:20min/mile the whole way.  He finished in an incredible 1:09:52. 

I had to pull off right before the end, but I was fortunate to run into him afterwards and get to hear his perspective.  He was very thankful for the support and told me his key to running fast is to “relax.”  Easy for him to say! 🙂rnr end


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