Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Joys of Learning to Ride - The Best Advice, or Not?
Apparently no one gave this girl the "dress for the crash" advice.
With plenty of videos and step-by-step guides titled "5 Easy Steps to Learning to Ride" or "Learn to Ride the Easy Way," you would think that a new rider would feel fully prepared before hoping on a bike for the first time. Yet somehow, after reading every guide and article and watching every instructional video that I could find, I still feel just as unprepared as the day I decided to learn how to ride.
Sometimes I think that people who know how to ride forget how difficult and intimidating it really can be to learn. Most veteran riders tend to brush off new riders like "oh you'll figure it out" or give fairly vague tips that mean nothing to someone who really doesn't know what they're doing. I want the simple, straightforward facts. Instead I'm getting overly complicated and convoluted musings such as something do with the exact moment to release my clutch or what angle to turn at. On the other hand, I get really broad and repetitive tips that people think are clever but have been said to me hundreds of times. "Keep your rubber side down." Really? I thought my tires were meant to be ABOVE ME! Thank goodness you clarified. Or another good one is "dress for the crash, not for the ride." Great tip, or at least it was the first five times it was given to me. After time number 124,872 this little bit of wisdom was said to me, it kind of became slightly redundant.
Some of the best riding advice I feel like I've gotten has been from people who I don't think even realized were giving it. Listening to seasoned riders as they comment on other riders' techniques in everyday settings has given me quite a bit of insight that I feel might actually be useful. Though I can't remember when, where or who happened to make the comment, the most memorable piece of advice I've gotten without the person actually meaning to give it was after watching some random guy on a motorcycle take off from a stoplight. All I can remember being said was a simple "oh wow, he really drug his feet on that one." Lesson: it's not a bicycle; you don't need to use your feet to push yourself in order to start moving. As someone who has never ridden, I could totally see myself trying to use my feet to push myself forward. Had never thought of how unnecessary that actually is when you've got an engine strapped underneath you that is meant to propel you forward.
I'm actually contemplating how useful it would be to have a class on what not to do while riding where the only instructors are a catty group of riders who crap talk about riders as they pass by. "Wow, what an idiot. That guy totally just�" Note to self: don't do what that guy just did.
So why is it so hard to get little tidbits of advice like this when you really want it? I mean, every rider had to learn at some point so every rider should have come across some random piece of decent advice that will actually help me with my ability to ride. Forgo the convoluted technical stuff and give me the straightforward "hey kid, don't drag your feet when you take off." It may seem dumb to you, but it's the advice that matters.