I’ve Learned How To Teach Adults How To Ride A Bicycle
One of the main reasons that I became a League Cycling Instructor was to teach people how to ride bikes and how to do it safely. Although the League’s Traffic Skills 101 has been a staple course that’s taught in my area, my hope is to get better trained at Bicycling Skills 123 and Bicycling Skills 123 Youth and teach kids how to ride safer. If you teach them young, perhaps they’ll carry those skills with them into adulthood.
Something that I never considered was teaching adults how to ride. Being connected to our local advocacy group, BikeDFW and a network of local LCIs, we discovered that there was enough interest in this course, that we decided to offer it.
Many of our available instructors (including myself) were not fully trained in teaching this course, so we reached out to Gail Copus Spann, who is not only an LCI, but also trains them. Gail was able to take time away from her busy schedule as Chair of the Board of Directors for the League of American Bicyclists, to help teach both students and instructors. The students learned how to ride while the instructors picked up some great techniques on how to teach this course.
We decided to have the course at Bob Woodruff Park, in Plano, where there was plenty of open space that included a nice, grassy hill. The class was scheduled to run just a couple of hours, because any longer, students start to get burned out and too tired to focus. That was plenty of time to get the students acquainted with the basic fundamentals of the course and allow them to continue at their own pace, if needed.
The first thing we noticed in offering this course, is that most of the students did not have their own bicycles. This made sense, since they haven’t ridden before. We were able to pull together a few loaners, which we plan to offer for future courses. Once we got all of the bikes set up and fitted for each student, we were able to start taking them through the steps.
The pace of the course was slow by design. The goal was to steadily teach each student how to control the bike and not let the bike control them. Gail guided the students down the low-sloping, grassy hill dozens of times to help them gain their confidence and increase their skill level. With every run, our team of instructors would watch and evaluate the student’s progress – providing positive feedback. We were amazed at the level of progression that was made by each student throughout the course.
By the end of the class, all of the students were able to ride their bikes. The smiles on their faces reminded us of how wonderful it is to start somebody down the amazing path of bicycling. I enjoyed working with Gail and the other instructors, Warren, Mike and Bob. I hope to get more opportunities to assist people with courses like this.