Teaching my wife to ride

Newcastle Dave
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Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Newcastle Dave » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:05 pm

Ok, so I am looking for some advice on teaching my wife how to ride a bike. First some facts

1) She is 50 + (ladies don't tell their age), but is reasonably fit (ie she has no trouble working 15 or more km and just got back from completing the 3 Capes walk in Tasmania)
2) She has a permanent neck injury from a car accident 15 years ago (so although she did the 4 day walk without a problem, she was reliant on friends carrying most of her gear)
3) She has never really ridden a bike before (I tried to teach here 30 + years ago, all she did was take out half the garden and a few saplings at my parents place)
3) Before anyone says "why are you pushing her to ride ?", its quite the opposite. She is keen while I have reservations. Everyone comes off learning to ride, its just that at 5 or 6 you bounce a lot better than you do at 50 +

She has been loaned a ladies hybrid (weighs twice what my cross bike does, 3 X my roadie) that I can setup for her. I assume I will adjust seat so she can reach ground comfortably on both side (at least to start with ?) Put it in a low gear and run along holding it ?

So, do we find some reasonably hard grass surface, or go straight for the concrete ?

I haven't taught anyone to ride since my son 20 years ago

Any tips/ advice appreciated

ianganderton
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby ianganderton » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:39 pm

My strategy would be to layer things up in a way that manages success, reduces the risk of crashing and introduces little bits of key skills at a time so there is not too much going on to concentrate on at a time

Get these 3 things right and people learn the fastest. Deep ending can work but is soooo fraught by risk of putting someone off completely it's not recommended

To initially get the feel of how a bike works it's worth looking at the success very very young kids have with the strider bikes. I.e. No pedals

Set up the bike by removing the cranks etc with the seat at a height your wife finds very comfortable and get her to scoot around in it till she has the feeling of the following:

- brakes (feels very comfortable stopping smoothly when ever she wants)
- steering for balance and direction
- can scoot then feet up freewheel for significant distances

If you can find a large quiet level smooth area like an empty car park or school play ground

Once she is happy with the above then it's time to introduce the pedals. An indicator she is ready will be she is bored with scooting and finding the challenge of braking, turning and freewheeling boring

Again set the saddle height for maximum confidence and security at a height she is very very comfortable with. Be prepared to change it to what ever she wants to try.

So again run through some little very easy games or exercises. Ideally the person learning sets them selves little challenges.

At each stage recognise each small win. Point out to the person positive things you just saw them do. Often the learner will be caught up in the frustrations of no being able to do something straight away, it helps a lot to break down the big step from not being able to ride to being able to ride into a series of small identifiable steps that can be recognised as the process goes along. Be careful to walk the line between being positive and being patronising though.

At each stage don't bother if she is getting tired or sore in any way. Stop and have a rest, cup of tea, change of venue etc. There is absolutely no point in thrashing yourself when trying to learn something new. Very very counter productive

Once she is riding then you need to start doing some journeys. Again start small and very very easy then gradually build them up. Bikes are built for journeying so go somewhere, do something, come back

Use quiet wide bike paths to start off with beginners need a lot of space/width

I've recently gone through a process of rebuilding my wife's confidence mountain biking. She had got into the habit of falling off a lot and getting hurt. Over the past 12 months we have changed all that starting from scratch. The time investment has been 100% good value. We've focused on rides that 100% suited her ability level at each point. She has gone from struggling to ride the easiest of Mtb trails without a crash to winning her category at the Rocky Trail Superflow Rollercoaster race at Stromlo on Sunday. She now keeps up with good riders on tough tracks. Sooooo proud of her. I now have the best riding partner I could hope for and she will soon be on my tail pushing me down trails, she is already damn close on the ups!!
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ValleyForge
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby ValleyForge » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:29 pm

I'm quite serious when I say I just bought my girlfriend a bike and put her on it. She's quite a gifted horsewoman and fit.

She nailed it. Confidence has EVERYTHING to do with it.

Mind you she commented the bike has better brakes than a horse!
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Thoglette
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Thoglette » Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:57 pm

Newcastle Dave wrote:2) She has a permanent neck injury from a car accident 15 years ago (so although she did the 4 day walk without a problem, she was reliant on friends carrying most of her gear)


Ensure she's seated upright - means swept back bars (and sprung seat) See the Vintage Ladies section of Reid for examples
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Mulger bill
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:22 pm

Thoglette wrote:
Newcastle Dave wrote:2) She has a permanent neck injury from a car accident 15 years ago (so although she did the 4 day walk without a problem, she was reliant on friends carrying most of her gear)


Ensure she's seated upright - means swept back bars (and sprung seat) See the Vintage Ladies section of Reid for examples

Ian is spot on but this is vital, if she's not physically comfortable she'll never make it.

Good luck to you both :D
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zebee
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby zebee » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:33 am

I second ianganderton's post. That's how my mother got back into cycling when she was 80!

If she has a neck problem then do test on a very upright position. If that's still too hard then seriously consider a trike. You get the exercise but you also have back support and with a neck rest and suspension or a greenspeed-style shock cord managed mesh seat you don't get the jolts and you don't put pressure on the neck.

Try the cheap bike first as if that works good to go, but if it doesn't you can still have the exercise and social benefits of riding with a trike. (plus they are seriously fun to ride!)

If you want to try triking, shouldn't be too hard for the people in the recumbents forum to find trikes she can try.

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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Parker » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:08 am

She Rides courses :D

Bikermann
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Bikermann » Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:43 am

I've been teaching my wife to ride too. Oh, man, it was harder than I thought. I almost become gray-haired! Never will do it again (thanks god I have only one wife :) )!

bitstuffer
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby bitstuffer » Sat May 07, 2016 1:44 pm

Good to exercise, one thing I can offer in addition to all the above as advice is make sure 100% that you use normal pedals. Don't go the toe clips or cleats - just keep it simple with the pedals until she wants to get more serious. Nothing worse than trying to get a foot down to catch balance (and I mean at low speed / stopping) when it's tied in. There are enough other things that need to be happening without that added step and gravity being fairly constant.
Talking from experience with my better half who did exactly that on an interstate hire bike and ended up falling and injuring her wrist with the result that the bike holiday stopped on that day - into the rental car from day#1 wasn't quite what we imagined the trip would be.

Giddyup!

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outnabike
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby outnabike » Sat May 07, 2016 5:14 pm

I reckon it is a bit to do with your attitude as well.
You ride three nice bikes and she gets a draft horse....... :)
Ok. my wife is lets say senior to yours, but as a young thing of 65 we went to the Melbourne bike show and then up the road to a good bike shop. I had the Ute there, and we came away with a nice US made Breezer with an 8 speed nexus set of enclosed gears.

I tell you now the nine or ten speed standard gears on a new lady rider are definitely a deal breaker. These Nexus things can be changed standing still and removes half the concerns of being in the wrong gear at the lights etc.

I know you want to save money and not buy a bike and then find she doesn't like it. Put that to the bike store boss and do a bargain. A change or a refund if she doesn't like the thing. Then you have only paid for the rental say.... :)

I hate it when I wait for her and then I get a bell to move along a bit faster. :)
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Newcastle Dave
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Newcastle Dave » Mon May 09, 2016 10:05 am

Thanks for all the advice.

Well, I took the peddles off and we started by just coasting down a small incline at a local park last Monday. She spent the week just doing this and learning to steer and brake, although she still has the habit of wanting to put her feet down to stop rather than braking (I was away for a few days but she had a friend help her), then on Saturday we put the peddles back on. Once again coasting down the hill and then peddling across the flat.

Sunday we swapped bikes (the loaner was very heavy and the front deralier was stuck in the bottom of the triple). I dug out my sons old MTB that he had as a 15 yo. Had to replace one tube, clean off some rust (and the disk brakes seem to have very little stopping power, I guess at the least the pads need changing).

So off to the local netball courts where she is successfully doing laps, can go where she wants to(mostly), but still not quite stable enough to attempt a shared path just yet (but hey, a week in I think she is doing great). The light pole in between a couple of the courts does hold some magnetic attraction though. Managed to ride into it twice, the only obstacle in 5 netball courts :-)

So next decision is what bike next ? (we both agree a new bike is not the go until she is more confidant, she doesn't want to scratch it), so that's a few weeks off, but she complained the MTB wasn't as comfortable in the saddle

My thought were to try a bike from the local share scheme (one of these http://www.spinway.com.au/the-bike/) I was thinking of hiring one for 24 hours ($35 I think) on a Sunday and getting in a few hours in a couple of easy sessions (more netball courts then MAYBE the shared path or a quite local road

ianganderton
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby ianganderton » Mon May 09, 2016 10:19 am

Awesome!! Supercool. Well done to both of you

The next phase is make or break time. Interesting stuff

My suggestions are:

Make sure what ever you do bike wise it's her choice and it's something she really wants to ride. This is key. We all know how much easier it is to ride a bike we really like.

Make sure you don't fall into the trap of 'selling' to hard to her the bike you think she should get. Sensible isn't necessarily inspiring.

Also start looking at the bikes she would like to ride. It's always good to have this series of steps lining up for all to see. One bike leads to another etc etc

Couple of other top tips

Ensure when you are riding you are both wearing the same type of clothing and using similar shoes etc. How many times have you seen people out with one obvious 'expert' in expensive kit (all the gear and no idea maybe!!) and some beginners in jeans or boardies. As well as the experts linking like a dick the more real problems are they make the beginners think they need all the gear to be able to ride and also they have less empathy with the beginners in that they have a chamois and gloves protecting bits that the beginners won't have protected.

Please pass on a huge well done from me to your wife. Super pleased for her!!!
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Calvin27
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Calvin27 » Mon May 09, 2016 10:45 am

1. Don't bother explaining. Just get her to jump on.
2. Don't watch too much and give feedback. Just let her figure it out. No one like to be wacthed when they fall.
3. You have to let the early mistakes go as annoying as it is. Just let her figure one thing at a time. You can correct these later.

Finally, everyone is different. Some get it straight away, others take time.
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zebee
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby zebee » Mon May 09, 2016 8:26 pm

The hitting the poles sounds like target fixation: you go where you look and a big thing that would be bad to hit tends to get looked at. They tell new dirt bike riders to look between the trees you are about to hit, not at them.

So maybe she needs to keep her head up (as looking close to the wheel can cause problems) and learn to look past the pole....

Newcastle Dave
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Newcastle Dave » Fri May 13, 2016 11:40 am

Just an update for those that are interested.

After a week and a half she is confidant enough to go by herself to the local netball courts and ride around without falling. She still has trouble sticking to anything resembling a straight line, but I keep telling her this will come with practice, (and to look further ahead)

So last night we went bike shopping (after doing some research online and trying a couple of her friends bikes) and ended up with a baby blue Norco Yorkville. She had tried a friends Norco vfr and also tried a Trek Stagger but she found the Yorkville just a bit more comfortable.

First ride will be on the netball courts this afternoon, then hopefully a less populated stretch of one of the cycletracks/shared paths on the weekend

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bychosis
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby bychosis » Fri May 13, 2016 1:26 pm

Nice work.

Newcastle Dave wrote:After a week and a half she is confidant enough to go by herself to the local netball courts and ride around without falling. She still has trouble sticking to anything resembling a straight line, but I keep telling her this will come with practice, (and to look further ahead)


One of the things that beginners don't seem to get is that additional speed provides stability and directional control. It's always difficult to convince someone that is worried about control and stopping that going faster is easier though! I find over 15km/h being the sweet spot for ease of control, below that I can balance, but its a well learned balance, not physics assisted.
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ianganderton
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby ianganderton » Fri May 13, 2016 1:54 pm

Super cool!

From here it's all about time on the bike and building confidence one revolution at a time.

Differentiation is an important factor when developing new skills. I.e keep changing things to develope a broad adaptable skills base. The more places you wife can ride the better. Try to vary venues and routes as much as possible. As humans we tend to get addicted to what we know we can do and places we are confident. Shaking things up by varying these builds a broader skills base. Look at different venues to practice and as soon as possible look to do some 'journeys'

Confidence is SUPER important so ensure she knows it's absolutely fine to walk anything she's not confident riding. This can facilitate journeys that are mainly very easy but might have a junction or steep section that seems way to hard. When learners are ready they will want to ride these bits but until then it's common sense to walk here and there
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby tcdev » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:38 pm

bychosis wrote:One of the things that beginners don't seem to get is that additional speed provides stability and directional control. It's always difficult to convince someone that is worried about control and stopping that going faster is easier though! I find over 15km/h being the sweet spot for ease of control, below that I can balance, but its a well learned balance, not physics assisted.

This! I just bought my wife a bike on Friday for her upcoming birthday, although earlier last week we did a ride together on a loaner. Although she rode a bike (and horses) extensively when she was a kid it has been quite some time so her confidence was somewhat lacking, and she flatly refused to exceed 10kph (not that I was pushing her, but I did explain to her that going a little faster would make her feel more stable). Hopefully tomorrow we'll find the time for her maiden voyage on her own bike (and a nice one at that - a 2015 Liv Rove 0 Disc in pretty sweet condition)! :) All part of the plan to get the entire family cycling with me... :wink:
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby fergy1987 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:50 am

Newcastle Dave wrote:The light pole in between a couple of the courts does hold some magnetic attraction though. Managed to ride into it twice, the only obstacle in 5 netball courts :-)


This makes me laugh because when I learnt to ride it was the clothesline in a huge backyard.....every time, straight into it.....I thought I was the only one. Its good to know that ALL metal poles attract bikes :-)

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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby tcdev » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:49 pm

Well, it took about 3 weeks to get my wife onto her new bike, and for less than an hour at that.

Still very, very cautious, though she did manage to exceed 10kph briefly. I think part of the issue is that she's very nervous about riding on the road, even quiet back streets, but it's unavoidable around our place as we didn't have enough time to drive/ride to the bike path. She does like her new bike though, and thinks it's much nicer to ride than the loaner.

I get the impression that it's going to be quite a gradual process towards building her confidence and speed. Any tips on facilitating this? Or is it just a matter of hours in saddle?
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russells
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby russells » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:33 pm

My wife is in her sixties.
Two words motivated my wife to ride. Coffee shop. If you have one within ten minutes make that a first goal. And spend more time talking and drinking coffee than riding. Confidence will grow.
She moved from a cheap heavy nexus hub step through bike to a chain gear bike. Then to a Giant Liv womens road bike, which she loves as it is lighter for the hills but a bit twitchy. Fixed that by swapping the bars for a wider set off a mens roadie. She prefers it to a hybrid.
Then came the selle ladies gel seat, and the padded nicks... And the 50km rides.
Last year it was a trip to France to ride down the Loire. Awesome progress in three years.

Newcastle Dave
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Newcastle Dave » Thu Sep 08, 2016 1:57 pm

Another update

After progressing nicely for a few weeks, my wife had a stack a couple of months ago. Although I didn't see it, I believe what happened was that she rode off the edge of the concrete bike track and then as she swerved back on her front wheel ran along the edge of the concrete (it is about 4 cm higher than the grass at that point) and she went down on the path. The result was a large chunk out of the flesh on her knee (a very deep graze), that has left a nice scar.

I brought her home and we bandaged it, and she went straight out and rode around the netball courts some more (I sort of told her she had too :D )

However with bad weather (and walking/jogging prep for city to surf) she hadn't been out since, until yesterday. Once again it was back to the netball courts where she did 5.5 km round and around.

Hopefully will be back to the bike tracks this weekend (assuming the weather holds up)

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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby ironhanglider » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:07 pm

Newcastle Dave wrote:Another update

After progressing nicely for a few weeks, my wife had a stack a couple of months ago. Although I didn't see it, I believe what happened was that she rode off the edge of the concrete bike track and then as she swerved back on her front wheel ran along the edge of the concrete (it is about 4 cm higher than the grass at that point) and she went down on the path. The result was a large chunk out of the flesh on her knee (a very deep graze), that has left a nice scar.

I brought her home and we bandaged it, and she went straight out and rode around the netball courts some more (I sort of told her she had too :D )

However with bad weather (and walking/jogging prep for city to surf) she hadn't been out since, until yesterday. Once again it was back to the netball courts where she did 5.5 km round and around.

Hopefully will be back to the bike tracks this weekend (assuming the weather holds up)


What an update!

Edges are a bad thing, because they cause you to fall forward rapidly and you frequently hit your face. 5 km to and around a netball court is great, 'cause riding around a flat space is boring.

A ride to a coffee shop is definitely in order.

Cheers,

Cameron
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tcdev
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby tcdev » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:12 pm

russells wrote:Two words motivated my wife to ride. Coffee shop. If you have one within ten minutes make that a first goal. And spend more time talking and drinking coffee than riding. Confidence will grow.
(snip)
Then came the selle ladies gel seat, and the padded nicks... And the 50km rides.
Last year it was a trip to France to ride down the Loire. Awesome progress in three years.

That's great progress! And funny you should mention the coffee shop; a new acquaintance with whom I went riding yesterday had the same suggestion.

To be frank though, the issue is not motivation to get out and exercise per se (she's always been the sporty type), it's convincing her to devote some of her very limited time to cycling, and that would include sitting in a coffee shop. We have two young kids and they being in day care only 2 days/wk, my wife spends those free days being as productive as possible which means, atm at least, fixing up the house (she's renovating the kids play room and her own art studio/study) and the yard. Both rides thus far have involved dragging her out late in the afternoon and then 'rushing' home to pick up the kids. At least she seems agreeable to devoting 1hr/wk to our rides at this point.

It would be my dream to do a multi-day rail-trail type ride with her, but I suspect that's a few years off yet. I think if we both had more time I would have much less difficulty getting her on her bike a few times a week and for longer rides! She was talking about riding with a friend a few days ago and she mentioned - much to our surprise - that her husband rides and they'd both done some off-road in the National Park recently. I'm hoping that piqued her interest there too because my preference is actually for off-road riding!

Once we get the eldest off training wheels we can at least start going for (short) family rides with the youngest on the back of my bike.
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Parker
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Re: Teaching my wife to ride

Postby Parker » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:54 pm

Registrations for She Rides are closing soon, maybe tonight... http://www.cycling.org.au/Get-Involved/She-Rides

If you want to speed up the process and help your wife be confident then this is a great way to do it, the instructors break skills down so they're easy to understand and achieve. I'm sure you're all good at riding your bikes, but I think you might need some help.

Yes I'm a She Rides instructor.

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