The League of American Bicyclists class is over, but the learning continues and the process of me becoming a teacher of bike riders is just beginning. I wrote about the first evening of the class previously here in Part 1, Today I write about all day Saturday and a chunk of Sunday. A combination of theory in the classroom and practice on the bike, it was challenging. There is a lot of information to cover and not alot of time to do it. So alot was crammed into the heads of we the students that may take some time to process. But the upshot is that after completing a few more steps, I’ll be able to pass on my knowledge to kids and adults alike. The goal? To get more bikes on butts — safely. It’s a pretty cool and beautiful idea. Read on to hear the details.
But First, A Thank You to My Sponsors
When I first learned this course was happening, I said to myself, “A Dude, you can’t afford that!” The second thing I said to myself (quietly, not aloud) was “Hey, I’ve raised money for other things, why not at least try and ask for this?” So, I sent the word out, and six brave souls all pitched in to make it happen. Without this support, I would have had to wait for another year. And the world would be deprived of my gifts. (Kidding!) But seriously, the gifts were very timely and appreciated, because the cost of the course was beyond my budget, for now.
So, a BIG THANK YOU goes to the following generous contributors! I quite literally could have not done it without you. I really appreciate your support and vote of confidence in me. It means a great deal and I hope to be able to give back, as they say.
Sam & Rebecca B.
Teaching Cyclists to Teach Cycling
The third question I had for myself was, “How hard can teaching bicycling be — do we really need three days? And remember, the phrase used to describe learning something is literally, “It’s just like riding a bike”! So while it’s not rocket surgery, yes, we need alot more than three days — it is a dense course. The instructor covered it well, though, and we have online resources to refer to. The hard part will be getting the word out and people to attend, as well as find resources to sponsor it. But we can feel good in the knowledge that the coaching we received was top notch. The coach was a very experienced and long-term League instructor, so that was an added bonus. Despite having the interaction with another 6 or more students, we did cover alot of ground.
So as I stated in Friday’s post, the class agenda is, to repat, something I’m not going to give away completely. It would behoove any cyclists reading this to go the Leauge website and gain some information on riding you may have not considered. Throughout the weekend, we had to evaluate each other. This was a good practice for having to do that for real in real life in whatever classes or lessons we may set up. We did discuss marketing, but also the realities of riding a bike, working, and trying to make ends work and the quality would suffer. Perhaps like this blog post.
Other fun facts swirl in my brain. One of them was that there’s alot of ways things can go wrong with the drills. But over time, we grew in confidence describing and demostratint that. Another challenge dealt with teaching children. While there was a section discussing this, I feel there is alot more to know about this population. Only certain ages are allowed to be taught to ride on the road, so others will have to be taught “bike rodeo” style in a parking lot. The League has a ton of resources for new LCI’s on its website, like how to teach commuters. In some ways it’s pretty overwhelming.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
We did alot more work on the training drills, taking turns telling the others how to do them, observing, doing them ourselves, being observed and so on. The weather Saturday was great – sunny and warm, little wind. But Sunday was another matter. In the photo of my little Strava ride, you can see fellow student bundled up and grey skies. We didn’t do a longer group ride because of the wind and cold, unfortunately. I was game, and I had more clothes I could have put on, too.
For me, I had some trouble handling Sophie on tight turns. Her turning radius is alot wider than the Fuji bike. So when I didn’t do great with them on Saturday on Sophie, on Sunday with the Fuji, I did really well. I also reduced my speed. Teaching the drills is another thing I need to keep practicing and master. Because I didn’t have my reading glasses as I should have, I had a hard time reading the instruction card. But this is readily rectifiable by a little more practice and study.
The section on marketing was pretty interesting. Because of the variety of classes, types of people who ride bikes, and more, the chief lesson here is to partner with others. At first, other LCI’s, and also non-profits, schools, health departments, companies who support safety, and more. In fact, we have an assignment to come up with a real plan for setting up a seminar, in this case for folks in my part of town who are “utility cyclists,” i.e., people just going to work or on errands, no lights or helmets. And definitely no Spandex. Anyway, we have our work cut out for us.
Celebrate Good Times
The suggestion was made to reconvene at a neighborhood watering hole and nourishment replenishment station. So we did, and beverages were had, stories told, and conversation ensued. I had corned beef hash and a mimosa with cranberry and grapefruit. A fellow student bought the first beverage and another my brunch, which was really nice: “From each accoding to their ability, to each according to their need.” It was good to see people in a less formal and stressful environment to blow off some steam and reflect on what we’d learn.
Hopefully the students will all stay in touch after our project as well, and eventually find paid work as instructors. As time goes by, we’ll see how much time I have to take on volunteer or hopefully some paid activities. Despite a couple of mishaps, generally we got through the sesion, and live to die another day. (Just not on the bicycle.) If you can, maybe you’d like to consider the LCI class for yourself? And if you’re in Austin and want to hire A Dude to teach you cycling, please get in touch via the About page. Meanwhile, Get on your bike and ride! (Carefully, of course!)
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