The colloquialism “it’s just like riding a bike” has always lacked personal recognition for me, for all the reasons. To me, it might as well be “it’s just like reaching Everest Base Camp,” something to file under “people do it, but so far not me.” (I would like to summit Everest Base Camp.) But after a few weeks off from bike riding, I did find a sense of familiarity back in the saddle.
Last Sunday I found myself risking windburn and pneumonia (caused by severe hypochondria, as it was 50 degrees) on Randall’s Island to take a second level learn-to-bike class with Bike New York. You might remember my first class where I triumphantly “earned my pedals” by gliding in a circle in a Roosevelt Island gym.
Maybe it’s not fair to say “found myself there.” I signed up. I want to learn. And it might be too early in the year to call it a Christmas Miracle but By George I am getting better! Learning to ride a bike outside of the elementary school years takes a strain of determination. But I’ve never been a quitter.
I’d like to paint the scene for you. Have you ever been to Randall’s Island? I hadn’t. And that’s not surprising. Reasons to go there include: to play tennis, attend a music festival, be or visit a inpatient at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center. Also bird watching. Because it’s actually beautiful on Randall’s Island. A bit creepy and strange but beautiful.
The class met near the south end of Icahn stadium. Did I mention it was cold and windy? It was. This class was much smaller than my last one, there were only six other students. This goal of this session was to take our basic riding ability and layer on top useful skills to make bike riding practically possible. We learned to signal, to “power start”, to scan and basic bike maintenance.
I spent the bulk of 2.5 hours riding a bike, and at no point did I freak out or get intimidated. I got on and off the bike with ease and confidence. People passed me and I didn’t lose my cool (an issue in the past). I was able to scan and signal (look back and remove a hand from the handle bars.)
I think I might be ready for the major leagues (or at least the West Side Highway bike path!). The Bike New York team was fabulous as always. Maybe a little on the cycling-vigilante side. (The teacher told us wobbly riders that the road belonged just us much to us as to cars. But I don’t think entitlement is going to be enough to prevent head injury in Manhattan traffic.) As a reminder these classes are free! If you also don’t know how to ride a bike, or want a road rules refresher to prep for NYC traffic, they offer classes at all levels.
Any suggestions on an easy bike for a new rider?