Ana and Nathalie became friends a the Y. After hearing that neither of them knew how to ride a bike I offered to teach them. We borrowed a couple of small, folding bikes and after a couple of sessions in our parking lot both were able to then practice balancing, pedaling and riding in a parking lot. Both purchased folding bikes to start riding because they are small, easy to handle and fit easily in the trunk of a car. They progressed to riding on a separated multiuse paths, free of cars, (but full of walkers, joggers and other people riding bikes).
After one month, Ana was ready to try riding in the road. Knowing there are many people who would like to ride their bike, but art stopped by fear, the Y created “Community Rides”. Lead by a League Certified Instructor through the League of American Bicyclists and another experienced rider, we started leading rides designed to teach people how to “Ride Right” in the road. Starting with some parking lot drills to establish basic bike handling skills, we started with routes designed to minimize exposure to lots of cars and traffic and slowly building complexity. Mileage and endurance was secondary to learning about proper riding etiquette, protocol and traffic law.
Over the weeks Ana’s skills and confidence grew as did her enjoyment with riding a bike. She covered as many at 10 miles with many different traffic conditions on some rides! She is now eager to purchase a full size bicycle and ride in the Tour de Elizabeth on May 17th! This is a 15 mile Famiily Ride event with close to 1000 people of all ages riding through the historic streets of Elizabeth. With a send off from the Mayor and lots of Police presence managing car traffic, the ride is family friendly.
In preparation for more riding Ana just participated in our Fix A Flat Clinic at the Y and learned how to repair a punctured inner tube with a patch. Volunteer Peter Clayton is pictured here with Ana, showing her how to apply the patch and replace the tire on the bike. Peter is an experienced rider and bicycle enthusiast who has been a huge help with making these community rides a success. We are all looking forward to the Community Rides starting in May.