VB and the Incremental Approach

ADULT LEARN TO RIDE A BIKE
VB and the Incremental Approach

Here’s a little about the VB method, a preview of what you can expect from an adult Learn-to-Ride lesson, and a chance to get our expectations in alignment.

Contrary to popular belief, riding a bike is an amazing and complex skill. But because so many people learned during childhood, they assume that learning to ride is somehow simple. They don’t understand the challenges an adult beginner faces the first time s/he sits on a bike and tries to pedal away.

When we acknowledge that solid bike riding skills take time to learn, when we allow that it’s natural for an adult to be nervous, when we take a systematic and dignified approach to learning a new skill, then we’ve got a better chance of true, long-term success.

I see many cyclists out there who are riding with great big gaps in their skills sets. They’ll come to me and say “I’m ok once I get going, but it’s the starting that’s a problem.” Then they’ll go on, “I’m a little afraid of stopping too”. All in all, though they can get their bike rolling down the street, they have zero confidence, their rides are tense and anxious, and of course, they’re at greater risk of injury. I learn a lot from watching these riders, then I bring those observations to my students.

In the case of a student who has never learned, or never learned properly, I start with a clean slate. I work through a series of preliminary exercises that teach your body and brain what makes a bike go. I work in very deliberate and incremental steps, so that in each exercise, you’re only focusing on one new skill. Our goal is to allow you to feel relaxed and in control at each step. For example, before you even get on the bike and try to make it go, we’ll spend time drilling you on using the brakes! How can you not be fearful on a moving bike if you don’t know how to stop!!

There are no artificial benchmarks to measure success in a lesson. Every minute spent, every exercise attempted moves the needle, and that is the success we seek. While it’s likely that most will be “riding” by the end of one lesson, it’s not required and it’s not important. More important is to progress securely as you work toward your goal. Rushing is counterproductive!

Confident bike-handling skills are a lifetime pursuit, a journey of a thousand miles. I’m proud to report that two-thirds of my students come back for follow-up lessons. They get started, find value in the lessons, and want to take it to the next level, whatever that may be: riding in the park, riding on vacation, joining CitiBike, even entering races and triathlons.

Take a big-picture view of learning to ride – if you start now, what will your skills be like by next season? In 5 years? Throughout my lifetime, cycling has been a positive presence in so many ways – and never more than now, as I help students get started on their own virtuous cycle – learn how, ride and watch your skills grow, feel better and feel fitter, ride more because you love it.

I’m looking forward to being your instructor,
Best,
Lance Jacobs, August 2015

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