Tips for Fearful, Chubby (or otherwise) Adults
Do you remember the saying ‘age is just a number’? Well, that’s so true as the heart wants what it wants no matter the time, season, or age. So I have wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle for a very long time, but the fear of the laws of physics, gravity, balancing, and a host of childhood ills that therapy is yet to address held me back. Might I also add that being self-conscious about my body size as I age did not help matters? Mindset, right?! So if anyone is holding unto that fear, and if you can, do it afraid.
Using the shut-in period to develop myself, I finally summed up the courage to learn how to ride a bicycle — a big shout out to my dear friends: Olabimpe and T-Dawg for being supportive. I shared the video on Instagram, and the ensuing comments inspired this post.
First, let’s all agree that learning how to ride a bike is the most ridiculous thing to venture into as an adult. Like, where were you when your peers were skinning their hearts and knees as eight or nine-year-olds? I say all this because acknowledging this ridiculousness is a first-step to self-awareness and also the right foundation you need to set because you will be laughing at yourself a lot. At least I did! But that’s just half the fun!
So you want to learn how to ride a bicycle as an adult? Do you want to go outside and feel the wind in your hair? Do you want to travel on known paths but without feeling boxed in as you would in a car? Then you should totally consider bike-riding!
As adults, many of us never got the chance to learn, but there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Once you are determined, you will succeed, no matter how many times you fall and remember- ANYONE can ride a bicycle. So from my experience, here are some tips you need on how to learn bike riding:
- Hold unto that fear: You know the saying- ‘do it afraid.’ Just go ahead. No one remains in a state or place forever once a step is taken. It’s OK to be afraid of falling. As someone who’s fallen once after learning how to ride, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually enjoyed the fall.
- Get a bike: I recommend Walmart. If you love thrift shopping, Goodwill might have some good ones. Other options are Amazon or any other bike shop. If you buy a gently used one, make sure the brakes and pedals work. The bike I eventually got turned out to be one designed by Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville model). I named her Besty (a stylized version of Betsey Johnson for how colorful she looks). Even if it means going to all the stores you know, never buy what you are not comfortable with it.
- Getting the right bike is another thing to consider: Your height is the most important thing to consider when buying a bike. Bike seats are adjustable. At the lowest, your feet should be able to touch the ground. I added an extra layer of comfort to get a bike with a wider seat to cushion my ooh-ahh. Yeah, those bike seats are not vaChina friendly.
- Get a helmet for safety reasons: This cannot be over flogged. Helmets are recommended for every rider, as you never know when an accident can happen. Better to be safe than sorry. Remember to get the right fit so that you are not riding, and your helmet is falling over to the other side. And never ride without a helmet. You really don’t want flowers growing out of the cracks in your skull. It’s important to get the right fit because there are different types of helmets for various purposes. Other protective accessories to go with the helmet include knee and elbow pads, which insulate joints and protect against scrapes. I didn’t use any of these as I wanted to travel light. By the way, please don’t be caught wearing gowns or any baggy pants or long skirts. They may get caught in the gears and tires and result in you falling down.
- Feet placement: Learn to ride the bike by placing your feet firmly while sitting on it. I have trust issues and needed to have a firm grip and balance well. So remember to plant one foot on the ground and feel the weight of the bike between your legs and be sure you are balanced at the center of the bike. Also, adjust the bike seat to what suits you. You should also test the brakes to see how it works. Please do this when you are NOT in motion.
- Location, location, location: Utilize a downward slope to practice balancing. Get to a terrain that has just enough slope and avoid grass because of the friction. A park is also a good place to start. Really, find out what works for you. In my case, riding at dusk to practice really helped me as I could focus more on myself without feeling too self-conscious about how other onlookers perceived my mistakes. I also wanted to stop comparing myself to toddlers in their training wheels equipped tricycles who made their way past me during the day.
- Learning curve: On average, it should take about 5–7 sessions, with the bulk of this spent on learning how to balance on the bike. While it might have taken others a shorter timeframe, it took me three weeks to get the hang of riding a bike. Whatever works for you as far as you are able to ride a bike, it’s just fine. One important step to also add is to have the right crowd or person around you. The one that keeps cheering you on no matter how many times you fall. You definitely need that! I gave up many times, but these people kept me going. Sticking to it — like other things in life, don’t discount everything you learn, when learning new stuff. Just add precepts upon precepts.
- The Great Fall of vaChina: Yeah, remember that fall I said I had after mastering bike riding? Well, it turned out that in lieu of breaking my bone, my left brake took the fall. So now, Betsy is one brake down, but I am still able to ride her. That’s the beauty of bike-riding. Plus, you only need to apply one brake anyway, so you don’t flip the bike over.
- So bike learning’s done and dusted: Hurrah!!! Don’t let your bike gather dust in the garage. Keep riding and see how you can add new tricks to your experience. Say how to free-stand while riding (let me know how that goes). Another good thing I got out of riding a bike is that it helps me spend more time with my husband as he loves riding a bike as well.