Cathy has some great reminders about the off-season told through two stories of learning how to ride a bike. Worth a read!
Last winter we had an eye opening clinic with Julie Emmerman. She asked a simple question, “Why do you race?”. Everyone had a different reason and story, with various emotions that were stirred up. My reason was as simple as the question: I race because it’s fun! It’s probably safe to say that we all ride because bikes are fun or at least that’s why we start. If you have gotten caught up with training, racing, and everything that comes with this sport, take a step back. It is the off-season for the roadies, and a good time to reflect.
Remember when you first learned to ride? Do you remember the exhilaration of taking off and being free to go where your bike took you? I hope you can remember, or at least remind yourself of that time, and use it to refuel yourself for whatever goals and challenges you are facing. I had the distinct pleasure of helping two people learn to have more fun by learning to ride bikes this summer, and was reminded of the raw pleasure of riding.
My daughter had ridden a balance bike since she was two, but froze when we put pedals beneath her. They got in the way, and the coaster brake freaked her out. After a few frustrating practice rides my husband and I decided it wasn’t worth pushing her. We both love riding and didn’t want to turn her off by forcing her to ride. So this summer (nearly two years later) she mentioned taking her bike to a field to practice, and we go her to that field pronto! She banged up her shins, fell, cried, but kept getting up. Her tenacity was inspiring. She owned the whole experience and wasn’t giving up. After a few days she took off and squealed with joy while she yelled, “I’m doing it! I’m riding!”. And now, she’s tearing it up and loving every minute of it.
The second person I helped was considerably older than my six year old daughter, but no less inspirational. This professional woman sought out a cycling coach, me, to help her to learn to ride. This special client of mine had never ridden a bike – as in never ever. I jumped at the opportunity! How amazing is it to have an adult admit that she doesn’t know how to ride, face her fears, buy a bicycle, and actually learn to ride?!? Well, she did it, and in a very short amount of time. Our first session was about one and a half hours long. That was just to get the sensation of balance. No pedals, no steering, just balance. She struggled, but she slowly gained ground in between the fumbles. You could see her determination. Talk about being in the zone! She was focused and persisted even with strangers looking on. The next time we met she was pedaling! She learned to ride her bike! I could barely contain myself, and was so proud this woman I had met less than one week before.
I am honored that I could help these two ladies, and thankful that I could witness them both learn to overcome some pretty darn big challenges. I hope you can harness the fun as you tackle your own challenges next season!
*My client happily agreed to share her story publicly in the hopes that it will inspire other adults to learn to ride a bike. If you don’t know how to ride leave a comment and this supportive community of cyclists will answer!