Did you learn to ride a bike when you were a kid? Well, this article is not for you!
I grew up in the urban setting. When I was younger, the roads were still wider. Less cars, less people in the city. However, none of my parents or relatives had a bike; hence no one bothered to teach me.
My mother knew how to ride a bike, but since she never owned one since she got married, she soon forgot how to ride one. My uncle used to keep one, but it was already rusty and served only as a decor at our compound. I remember I would use to look at it from above as it was hung just below the roof of their house—like a beautiful, untouchable ornament!
As I grew older, learning how to ride a bike seems a bleak goal. An endeavor that might not get realised. They say, it gets difficult to learn new things as you get older. It’s like stretching the neurons of your brain becomes more difficult as we age. Maybe it gets sticky??
This used to be a frustration. In my mind: “I could never join a triathlon because, I can’t ride a bike”. I learned how to swim by taking up swimming lessons last 2013. I learned to do total immersion. That made me think, now, only cycling is left to tick off that triathlon bucket list.
Where to learn? How to learn?
We went to the province some couple of summers ago and my lola’s caretaker had a bike he used to ride when going for errands. Mama immediately jumped in and tried to ride it. She could, but only for a couple of seconds. Of course I wanted to learn too!
My partner grew up in the southern part of Ilocos province. He knows how to ride a bike, but he doesn’t know how he could teach me. Well, we tried the common approach which is to support the seat of the rider until he/she is pedaling on her own, and then they let go. Result? I just kept crashing on the ground. Good thing it was my lola’s backyard and I could crash all I want on the soft grass! However, that didn’t teach me how to ride a bike.
I just shrugged. Maybe cycling isn’t for me. Or my neurons are just stubborn.
Wait, this post is about riding a bike, but I’m talking about swimming? Well, not really. I wanted to talk about the different kinds of people and how they learn.
Some people are the doer kind. To me, these are the people who just don’t need to read the manual and just do it for how they think it should be done and then discover how it's done one by one.
And then there’s some who are pragmatic, who approach learning the logical way. I think I belong here. My brain is wired as such that learning had to have a structure— or that if there’s none, there should be an efficient way to ladderize the learning. This is how I learned how to swim. I learned through Aqualogic Swim last 2013.
Some years ago, you couldn’t get me near a pool. Moreso, not the sea. Some of my friends tried to help me by teaching me how to swim. I would always end up asking, “but how do I breathe?” And they couldn’t really teach it. The most I got from one friend was how to float! Lifesaver isn’t?
So, now that I understand how I best learn anything (even though these are physical learnings), I had to learn cycling the same way! But how..
My partner is a Gemini. I’m a Capricorn. My calculated movements and logical explanations for everything is no match for his: “I have an idea. I’m doing it now”.
He suddenly went home with a 26.5” mountain bike. Without discussing about it, nor did he even brushed on the topic before coming home with it. Living with a Gemini, I have somehow learned to live with his impulsive behavior. The only problem was, we live in a condo. Having a bike inside the unit eats space!
He was so excited he again wanted to teach me. It was National Heroes’ Day and we went out with this bike. I jogged of course, going to the mini park where we stayed and he rode is bike. He got it second hand from a colleague who wanted to de-stash one of his old bikes. He didn’t have a doubt about it so he got it for just 10k.
The bike was too big for me (at that time). At least all bikes seemed too big for me hah! It was just too difficult to learn. He tried and tried to push me around assuming he could let go anytime soon (as you’d see in the movies). Of course, I didn’t learn! He wasn’t the least frustrated, but I was. To me, it’s like a goal that is unreachable, and my optimism to learn is just putting out the fire to learn all the more.
One day, he decided to join the Firefly Brigade ride (which I hate by the way, I’ll tell you why later). Nearing that date, I decided, I wanted to learn how to ride the bike. I googled for cycling lessons near me and found one. I told myself, they can laugh all they want, but I’d pay up and still try to learn even at my old age.
My Saving Grace
I found National Bicycle Organization Lessons online. Their website seems like it’s not fresh, but they had a Facebook page. I stalked them, I researched. I planned the day of my learning. It was September 2019 and it had been raining a lot since June. However, my planned day of learning was a good day (at least for me).
Their bike classes are for all ages and it was near me, at BGC. I had an open mind, and a truck load full of optimism. My partner left very early that day for their Firefly ride. I went out soon after he left. I arrived at the venue at 7am.
I was the lone student at that time. I was asked some questions before we started and then I was given a bike without pedals! All I was asked to do was to stride. Stride left, stride right and attempt to balance. They close off the entire block so the bikers had an entire street for learning. Since there's a little inclination of the road, the other half of the street made it an easy feat to learn balancing. This I did for some couple of minutes until I was told I was ready for the next step. I was switched to a bike with pedals! OMG
When I rode it, I told myself, this is it. The positioning of the pedal (right if you’re right dominant and vice versa for left) was crucial, along with the kick-off. After 3 tries, I was pedaling! I couldn’t be any happier.
Would you imagine? It took me only an hour to learn! Where have they been all my life??PS: Want to learn here too?
Visit this page for more info: https://nationalbicycle.org.ph/nbobikelessons/
Register here: https://form.jotform.me/92721862724461 (minimal fee is also listed here)
Fast Forward to Today
I bought my first bike, a folding 20” Brompton bike before I took that lesson. I remember the frustration of not being able to balance. Then I learned the pragmatic way and now, I got a new bike.
I bought a Joe P24 Folding Tern Bike and it’s exactly the same size as my partner’s first bike. Hah! This is my go to bike for urban cycling. I love my folding for quick errands around the neighborhood and for riding at UP. But my Tern is really awesome for manuevering traffic!
At first it was really scary to ride out in a bike amidst the jungle of Metro Manila traffic, but you should see me trying to steady my bike between merging taxis and SUVs. You’d be surprised, I’m not that scaredy cat anymore who almost swore she would never ride a bike anymore!