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Teaching an adult to ride a bike ...

judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
edited May 2010 in MTB beginners
My husband, at 42, still cannot ride a bike. However, I have been subtly working on him (e.g. bought myself a new bike so there is now a "spare") and he is beginning to show an interest in learning.

The "spare" bike is a Marin Nail Trail that is actually a good fit for him. I have off-road stuff nearby (like Llandegla) that might be a useful place to start, or a nice grassy flattish field nearby.

Any advice, success / disaster stories gratefully received :lol:


  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Start very easy and keep it short, leave him wanting more . . . and include cake as a reward (well, this worked with my g/f :oops: )

    But the main thing, go gently and keep it fun.

    Oh, and go back to do the same trail so that he can see his improvements.
  • judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
    I've been told that it might be a good idea to take the pedals off at first to let him get his balance, pushing off with a low saddle and using feet for propulsion (maybe on a very gentle downwards slope). Saddle as low as it will go too, presumably, as any mishaps there could be very off-putting :oops:

    This sounds sensible!
  • NDawnNDawn Posts: 238
    SPDs or bust :) But in all seriousness I'd say lowish saddle, as you say gentle downhill, let gravity move him initially, let him get a feel for the balance, centre of gravity etc.
  • blister pusblister pus Posts: 5,780
    quiet park, flat grassy area, regular bike, one tip-toed foot on the ground for saddle height, press go to go in straight line, fall off, rinse and repeat for however long it takes. then ever decreasing circles, rinse and repeat.................................

    won't take as long as you think when confidence takes over either.
  • NDawnNDawn Posts: 238
    The hardest thing will be learning to fall off "properly" as a kid I fell off countless times and you eventually learn, but being a kid you tend to be a bit more resilient.
  • NDawnNDawn Posts: 238
    edited May 2010
    Bah! Sorry X2 posts.
  • thel33terthel33ter Posts: 2,684
    Put him on top of a black run and let go...
    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle
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  • andy46andy46 Posts: 1,666
    remember to tell him when he starts falling to steer into the fall, this will soon become instinct and movements on the handlebars will become smoother.

    also get him a helmet and some gloves.
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  • blister pusblister pus Posts: 5,780
    and a space suit
  • I'd say just go out and do it. That's how everyone else learns. Obviously locate a nice gently area though and no twisting trails. A gentle descent isn't a bad idea either but make sure he knows where the brakes are first and the dangers of pulling the front brake too hard - it's not going to be instinctive if he's never rode a bike before!
  • captainflycaptainfly Posts: 1,001
    Yeah pedals off and front brake out of reach, use as a balance bike with lots of space until he can coast comfotably, then with the pedals on a 34-38 tooth chainring (middle on triple) and 25-27 tooth rear cog as this should give a nice easy gear that isn;t going to get too much speed, one he has some speed it will become easier. Then get him used to braking this will probably be the hardest partbut you have to play it by ear.
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  • judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
    thel33ter wrote:
    Put him on top of a black run and let go...

    Oh, the temptation ... :lol:
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,197
    Find a quiet, flat lane with plenty of turning space or an out-of-hours car park and start there. Take the pedals off and just practice rolling along and using the brakes.

    Put the pedals back on, hold on to the back of the seat to give them confidence and run alongside while they pedal. Then let go - it's magic watching them ride off on their own.

    Sorry I was talking about a three-year old then but I imagine it's the same with an adult :)
  • sara flowmtbsara flowmtb Posts: 118
    All (most!) of the advice above is great. The one other thing though that might be worth considering is to get him someone else to teach him. It does depend a lot on you, and obviously him, but we've seen it a thousand times over with couples - usually the man trying to get the woman to mountain bike. Obviously this is a different case, but often the learner gets frustrated then takes it out on their partner. Because you are close they know they can shout at you and you'll forgive them etc etc. When it's someone different - whether a professional or just someone they don't know as well people often react differently.

    You could find a professional bike coach nearby and book him a lesson (maybe privately). Speak to a few to find someone that's got experience with adult beginners. I imagine it's hard as an adult to learn something most people learn as a child so take it gently at first. A lot of the people we see getting frustrated it's 'cos they're embarrassed/ ashamed at not being able to do what others can do so easily, so the suggestion above of somewhere quiet is a good one.

    Good luck.
  • miss notaxmiss notax Posts: 2,572
    What sara flowmtb says :D

    I could ride a bike, but hadn't done in about 25 years when I started MTBing a few years ago. It was silly things like turning tight corners, getting on and off (really!) that were some of the worst to get to grips with - all whilst feeling like a complete idiot because little kids do it so easily.... :oops:

    I would also definitely think about getting someone else to teach him. I agree with the above, and you see it all the time with sailing too (another husband usually teaches wife activity). It usually ends up with very grumpy ladies declaring that they never want to see another boat ever!
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  • TommyEssTommyEss Posts: 1,855
    There's the CTC bikeability courses too - think they're aimed at adults.
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  • tseniortsenior Posts: 664
    LOL many years ago my future wife gave me a few driving practice sessions, i refused to consider them as lessons!

    i was better at reverse parking than her then :wink:

    man we had some rows .....passed my test though :D
  • Oxygen ThiefOxygen Thief Posts: 649
    I would love to see a 42 year old trying to learn to ride a bike hahaha
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 12,998
    I would love to see a 42 year old trying to learn to ride a bike hahaha

    Helpful :roll:

    One thing to consider, don't take your bike with you when/if you teach him. Even if he's doing fairly well, if you hop on your bike and wheelie away at the end of the 'lesson' it'll be disheartening.

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • Oxygen ThiefOxygen Thief Posts: 649
    Was just saying what I thought. Don't tell me everyone read this and didn't think the same.
  • blister pusblister pus Posts: 5,780
    probably the ones under the age of 14. He's 42 not 92 ffs.
  • Oxygen ThiefOxygen Thief Posts: 649
    Most 92 year olds can ride a bike let alone most 42 year olds.
  • thel33terthel33ter Posts: 2,684
    miss notax wrote:
    getting on and off (really!)

    I still have a problem with this, nothing like doing a big downhill, getting to the bottom and toppling over.

    Mind you, I do use clipless :wink:
    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle
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  • thel33ter wrote:
    miss notax wrote:
    getting on and off (really!)

    I still have a problem with this, nothing like doing a big downhill, getting to the bottom and toppling over.

    Mind you, I do use clipless :wink:

    LOL i have done exacty that on many occaisons, windy switchback, big air, fast berms . . . . not a twicth, then you stop at the bottom with a ear to ear grin then BAM on your censored :oops: nice to know im not the only one :P

    Couple years back i tought by missus to ride by the old holding on to the saddle and pushing then shout pedal ! . . . catching up on my bike telling her were to put her wieght, no sharp movements on the handel bars and gently using the brakes, worked a treat :D
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  • judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
    Thanks for all the replies. I will consider buying him a lesson if things are likely to get tetchy. However, he taught me to rock-climb without (too many) fallings-out / rock and teddy-throwing sessions.

    We're usually OK on stuff like that, but I know they can teach this at Llandegla and Delamere if needs be.

    I'll let you know how we get on. I've been a teacher for many years, but realise it's different when it's someone you're close to ...
  • judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
    Well, progress indeed!

    Within half an hour on a grassy playing field this evening, said OH managed not only to coast downhill, but also began pedalling on the flat! I am seriously impressed!

    He managed the obligatory "nut crunch" within 2 minutes of starting, but is obviously a fast learner :wink:

    No cross words, no teddy-throwing (yet). I think he'll be a natural ... about 38 years too late, but not his fault. Thinking of trying a short local trail tomorrow ... I can try out my new Anthem X4 and he can practice on flattish fire roads.

    Thanks for all the advice ... it's working (particularly the grassy gentle downhill one) :lol:
  • I'm not surprised at the results really. I think pretty much anyone has the ability to learn to ride. Just try not to dive in too deep, too soon. It'll probably take him a good bit of practice to really start feeling comfortable and in control of the bike.

    Once he gets going, some regular rides on cycle tracks should get him on his way.
  • judith_swjudith_sw Posts: 101
    Agreed - although I'm still impressed. We are long-term rock climbers, so I'm thinking the balance needed for that will help.

    We have a novice 4km circuit nearby - could be useful once he can keep going and steer.

    Promising though :D
  • Dan_xzDan_xz Posts: 130
    Leave the bike in a fairly low gear (don't bother showing him how the gears work yet) Just push him along a bit on a flat grass area so he get the feel of balance. Eventually he can try to pedal a bit while you run along and steady him. Eventually he will start to pedal away from you in a wobbly fashion. From there on its just him practicing.
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