Bike skills for the not-so-easy rider
My four-year-old daughter has a newspaper clipping of Ryder Hesjedal stuck to her bedroom wall. (She admires his pink jersey, as well as his mad skills). My son, age 6, already mountain bikes. And my husband, well, he could run for office in the Republic of Bikelandia. I could see the signs. It was time for me to get in gear, drink the Gatorade, hop in the saddle and all that.
My son is a keen cyclist and knows his bike safety.
I’ve always liked to bike but hated to be near cars—and so hadn’t really ridden in years. Enter the Bike to Work Skills Course, held in Victoria as part of Bike-to-Work Week (May 28 to June 3 this year). Remembering that we ran an Outdoor Advisor on the usefulness of such courses (“Safe city cycling,” Spring 2011), I signed up for the 7.5-hour course held June 10.
In sum, it was an intense day, but I’m glad it did it. As a subsidized venture, it cost me a mere $30, and involved classroom theory, bike drills, and a 12-kilometre group ride that included some of the trickiest traffic areas in downtown Victoria.
If you had told me before that I would cycle three times over the Johnson Street Bridge, I would have said, “Sure, and then I’m joining Cirque du Soleil.” But I listened to the excellent instruction, paid attention—and I did it, albeit with an expression that suggested I’d undergone taxidermy.
Participants’ abilities ranged from the rusty, like me, up to a young man who was preparing to cycle around the world. One of the most important tips I learned was not to hug the curb—closer is not necessarily safer. And there are times when it’s safest for a cyclist to take an entire lane.
There are two more workshops remaining in the series in Victoria: June 24 (which is an introductory course for those who are particularly nervous or out of practice) and June 30. Sponsors for this year’s Victoria courses, which actually cost $100 per person to run, were the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission, the University of Victoria, and the Uptown Shopping Centre, where my course took place.
Such commitment (and there were many more partners for Bike-to-Work Week) sends a strong message to new cyclists that their efforts to hone their skills and get a car off the road are supported in the community. There are bike skills courses in your neighbourhood, too, some as brief as one hour. Check them out and have a sweet, safe ride.