I remember my very first bike and how it was an extreme fail. I was 5, it was a baby purple my little pony bike with streamers and training wheels. It was beautiful! I mostly wanted to look at it as opposed to ride it. I took it for its first spin, it was amazing and FAST and then I wobbled, fell off, scraped my knee and NEVER road it again. Ever.
Fast forward to when I was 12, I decided not knowing how to ride a bike was ridiculous so I practiced and learned on my mom’s touring bike. I fell off a lot. I’m not even sure how, one minute, I’d be cruising along, future olympian in the making and then boom, run in to the curb, scabby knees. They’d heal and then I’d do it again. It didn’t exactly take over as my main hobby. It had hard competition – dance provided no scabs and plenty of glitter.
Towards the end high school I got a real road bike. I knew I wanted to ride bikes – ironman, road racing – I knew I wanted to do I just needed to start. On my first ride I was clipped in and toppled over. On my way down I put my hand out to “break” the fall and ended up breaking my elbow from the shock instead. Surgery and a couple recovery made my bionic elbow fine. What I had a hard time fixing was my fear of bike riding or more like bike-falling-off. For awhile I did nothing other than ride and be scared but that got annoying so I devised a plan when I was in my early/mid twenties
Requirement 1: Learn to take my hands off the handle bars so I could drink a water bottle and stop bonking on long rides
How: ride around on fields and practice
Requirement 2: stop being afraid of wobbling
How: only ride when its windy. I’d honestly wait till there was a wind warning and then I’d leave for a bike ride. At first it was terrifying, but eventually I got to a"fuck it” mindset
Requirement 3: learn to hold my line
How: I started entering local bike races. I was terrified. I’d be terrified for the days leading up to a race. I’d still show up and start. I’d usually be dropped on a corner and that’d be the end.
Requirement 4: learn to corner
How: I joined a cycling team and they taught us how to corner.
Requirement 5: now that I can stay in a pack, stop being afraid of drafting
How: motor pacing. If I could live to tell the tale of drafting off a car to motorcycle, surely I could trust another person to pull me along.
Requirement 6: get used to traffic
How: you guessed it. I road where the traffic was. Highway, marine drive, anywhere I could find cars, I’d practice keeping my cool.
Anyways, the list went on. Once I felt good about one requirement, I’d add another. My latest this year is descending. I’m still working on it. I’m not great by any means but here’s what I do: climb to the top of a hill or mountain, turn around and get in my aero bars and stay there until I get too scared and take a break or corner or whatever. If I’m on my road bike, I see how long I can go without using brakes.
I believe there are some seriously natural cyclists out there and man, they are good. I also believe you can pick a goal, break it down and tackle it requirement by requirement.
Day 19 #the100dayproject