Just Like Riding a Bike

Can you remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Like many people I learnt as a child. I must have been about 3 or 4 and I had a little red Raleigh with a doll seat on the back. I loved riding my bike and spent most of my summer holidays as a child riding up and down the lane outside my house with the other kids on our street. I was lucky though. Not everyone gets the chance to learn to ride as a child, and it’s not until later in life that they get to experience the joys of the wind in your hair and power under your pedals.

There tends to be a sense of embarrassment from adults when they disclose that they can’t ride a bike, almost as if it was a rite of passage which they missed out on. However, there is still chance for adults to learn to ride and, whilst it may be a bit more challenging when you’re older, the rewards are huge.

I used to work as a cycle instructor, and helped many adults take their first pedal strokes on two wheels: it was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It’s the massive smile that spreads across someone’s face once it’s ‘clicked’ and that person has realised that they can balance on two wheels and propel themselves across the ground under their own steam.

It might take 20 minutes or a few weeks of practice, maybe even some scrapes and bruises along the way (and definitely complaints of a sore bottom!), but once that magical moment has been achieved there is no going back.

It’s mostly women who have come to me as adults wanting to learn to ride, but I’ve worked with people of all ages and walks of life. I remember teaching a female refugee in her 30s who had recently been placed in Swindon and who was desperate to learn to ride so that she could get to her classes at a local college and explore her new town. Learning to cycle offered her the chance for freedom, to travel where she wanted when she wanted.

So, if you haven’t cycled for a while or are looking to learn for the first-time, then why not pop along to the County Ground Athletics track on a Friday morning between 10 and 12? There’s a free drop in session for anyone who needs a bit more support getting on the saddle. Bikes and helmets are avaliable and the friendly, supportive instructors will make sure you’re looked after. There’s also a range of adapted bikes avaliable to try, meaning that if a bicycle just isn’t for you then there are other options: tricycles, recumbents, tandems and even bikes which fit wheelchairs.

For more information on cycle training see: http://www.swindontravelchoices.co.uk/cycle/cycle-training-in-swindon/ or contact Ben Humphrey on bhumphrey@swindon.gov.uk.

Happy cycling! 😊

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