GrownUps on Bikes

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 Read more from Lyn here

Lots of GrownUps are getting on their bikes and enjoying it. But how many of us have taken the time to learn how to ride safely and how to look after our bikes?

Just how much there is to learn was brought home to me when I went on a "Basics of Bicycle Maintenance" course run by the Cycling's The Go Team. They are employed by Auckland Transport to train people on bikes to be confident and safe on the roads. And it is free,

I'd already been to a previous course which I'd found really helpful. I had just bought my bike and lacked the confidence to cycle on the busy roads where I live. On this course we had learnt how to manoeuvre our bikes effectively, how to make eye contact with car drivers and how to turn left and right correctly at intersections. By the end of the afternoon I could ride with one hand for at least 3 seconds while signalling a turn and looking behind me to check on the traffic behind.

From then on I'd fearlessly taken to the road on a fairly regular basis although over the winter my enthusiasm had rather waned. But now that summer is here I'm ready to go again. It's fun and relaxing. I like the feeling of the wind blowing on my cheeks while riding along in a pair of old pedal pushers and sneakers (helmeted of course). It makes me feel like a kid again.


 
On the evening of the bicycle maintenance course the weather looked perfect so there could be no excuse for not turning up.

At the door there was a cheery welcome from Zane (The community transport co-ordinator). He was handing out free puncture mending kits and reflective vests (not exactly fashion statements but it's important to be seen).

I had expected to see a bunch of sporty young people, but thankfully there were quite a few other GrownUps as well.

Our two enthusiastic young trainers, Eric (the Brazilian) and Eddie (a kiwi Asian) from Bigfoot Adventures  taught us how to do a very quick four point safety check which should be done every time before you get on your bike and set off.

1. Tyres


Check they are inflated correctly. Have a quick look all the way around for any worn or cracked rubber.

2. Wheels


Check that the quick release levers (or wheel nuts), are securely fastened so they don't come out while riding.

3. Brakes


Try both the front and back brakes to make sure they are working
.

4. Reflectors and Lights


Make sure your rear red reflector is clean and visible and check your lights are working if planning to ride at night.

The very thought that a loose quick release lever could send a bicycle wheel flying off causing the hapless rider to be hurled to the ground was enough to make us sit up and take notice.

We learnt how to check our brakes and gears and clean our bikes. And finally how to fix that dreaded flat tyre.

Eric mentioned how annoying it would be to have a puncture on the way to your favourite café on a weekend bike ride. But if you knew how to fix it you'd be able to get back on your bike and carry on to a well-deserved cappuccino. This was a strong incentive to master the skill.

He and Eddie explained every detail and demonstrated it in such an accessible way that even a novice could take it on board.

Then there was a flurry of activity as most had a go at releasing a bicycle wheel, removing the inner tube and putting it back together again. But I still lacked the confidence to tackle the job on my own.

So I stood next to another lady of my own age who was keen to give it a go and tried to look as if I was helping her out. I will be booking myself in for another session on bike maintenance until I have also fully mastered the art of changing a tyre

A great deal had been covered in a short time. And I now had a much better understanding that a bike is not just something to ride, but that you need to take care of it and understand how its various parts work. I would thoroughly recommend it.

To find out more about when and where courses will be held go to their website. It also has a whole lot of useful information for people on bikes.If there is sufficient demand for more courses they will run extra ones.

Cycling's the Go can be found at www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz.