Finding your balance as an adult cyclist novice

Posted on Posted in Cycling

Jade Emmons works in communications and lives in London, she’s recently found a passion for cycling. Read all about her journey. 

When travelling from A to B in the city, it is often too easy to keep your eyes on the road and disregard the people who cycle alongside you. If I told you, however, that the person riding next to you learnt to cycle only a few months prior, what would you think of them?

Cycling is often seen as an easy activity, after all, the phrase “As easy as riding a bike” is often bandied about. For some, those words ring hollow as the very idea of riding a bike seem impossible to them.

Those who haven’t mastered this skill well into adulthood often have a number of reasons. Some may have had a bad experience with cycling in childhood and simply never hopped back on their bikes, others had no opportunity, having grown up in high rises on busy roads in busy cities. For myself, the fear of falling off my bike took over during my late childhood. Having learnt how to drive as a late teen and then moving to a well-connected city in my twenties didn’t give me any motivation to learn to cycle.

But there was always something special about cycling. Having never mastered the skill myself, it always held some mysterious romance for me. I often imagined myself cycling around parks and in the countryside with my boyfriend, the wind in my hair and a picnic in my basket. Having gone through the effort to now learn to ride, this dream became a reality over the summer.

For those wanting to learn, there are a number of options open to them. Many councils offer training courses and there are companies which also offer 1-2-1 private training. Of course, there is also the tried and tested method of having a friend or family member teach you the basics and figuring it all out with more experience.

Personally, I found a combination of my boyfriend teaching me the basics and doing Bikeability courses to sharpen up my skills and technique worked best. I found the classes eye opening as before I had felt I was the only person in the city who didn’t know how to cycle. When I went to the classes, I was surrounded by not one, not two, but twenty other adults in exactly the same position as myself.

It took me a little over a month to get enough control to cycle around quiet roads, and a recent 1-2-1 training session paid for by the council helped me gain enough confidence to head out onto busy roads.

The important lesson to learn here, along with how to actually cycle, is to keep going with your training. There were several times I felt disheartened, bruised and ready to give in. I’m happy I persevered though, as the pay-off is a kind of freedom that I hadn’t experienced with any other mode of transport.

Whenever I travel around the city now, I give myself a pat on the back for overcoming my fears and learning to ride. Cycling around the city is much quicker than walking, much less polluting than driving, less frustrating and cramped than buses or the tube and it keeps me fit too. There is a freedom in knowing that if I go on holiday I can jump on a bike and explore another city, if there’s a sunny day I can cycle around a park and if I ever need a few extra pennies I can use my new found skill to gain an income as a bike courier.

For anyone considering learning to ride, I would tell them a million times over to commit the time and energy to learn. There are a whole host of different ways you can learn and adult learners are far more common than you think. It’s time to get on your bike.