You’re Never Too Old to Learn How to Ride a Bike

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Spring is my favorite season – the temperatures are rising, flowers are blooming, and that grayish-brown landscape is finally replaced with plush green flora (and the cherry blossoms are a nice touch too).  But those aren’t the only reasons why I love spring; in the bicycle world, spring means more people biking.  Springtime tends to be the season when a lot of people decide to start riding bikes again, and for some, to learn how to ride a bike for the first time.

This past Sunday, in partnership with the Washing Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) and The Old Bike Shop (who generously donated their bikes to us for three hours), I helped lead a Learn to Ride (L2R) class which specifically teaches adults how to ride a bike.  Being involved in the L2R classes is the best part of my job.  Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing the smile on someone’s face after they’ve learned how to ride a bike.  And it’s not just them learning how to ride a bike, although that is a big part of it for me, but it’s the fact that they’ve finally achieved something that they’ve never been able to do before, and quite possibly thought they’d never be able to do.

Teaching a L2R class is less about teaching and instructing and more about guidance and motivation.  All the instructors are there to encourage the students to keep trying, to recognize their efforts, and to congratulate them when they’ve made any type of progress.  Think about a time when you were learning something for the first time and how frustrating it could be.  Now think about how relieved, excited, motivated and happy you felt once you finally succeeded in learning it.  Just like everything else, people learn at different speeds.  There were a few people who had been to a L2R class before but didn’t quite get it.  We are so happy that these people were so motivated to learn how to ride that they came back for a second, and even third round. 

A few of the people I spoke with, after they made those pedal strokes on their own, expressed just how good it felt to finally know how to ride a bike.  Lisa said "I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders".  Marlene told me it will be her biggest accomplishment all year and that "I just feel more confident now".  Many people equate riding a bike with freedom but after teaching this class I think it’s safe to say that biking equals many things including happiness, joy and confidence.

The next L2R class in Arlington is on Sunday, April 28th so if you or someone you know wants to learn – send them our way!  For more pictures from the class, visit our Facebook page!

Zanna is the Events & Outreach Coordinator for BikeArlington.  Every time she teaches someone how to ride a bike she remembers how good it felt when she first learned.  Teaching the L2R classes is the best part of her job.

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