One pedal closer to embark on 23km ride

Christine Lim, 39, learns to scoot, glide and ride a bicycle as part of OCBC Cycle's Project Training Wheels.
OCBC Cycle's Project Training Wheels cycling coach Michael Lyons teaching novice rider Christine Lim the basic steps to cycling at the Sports Hub's 100Plus Promenade yesterday morning.
OCBC Cycle's Project Training Wheels cycling coach Michael Lyons teaching novice rider Christine Lim the basic steps to cycling at the Sports Hub's 100Plus Promenade yesterday morning.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Being calm and having the right posture key for adult novices in learn-to-ride programme

It can be daunting for an individual to start learning how to cycle at an adult age but OCBC Cycle's Project Training Wheels, the event's learn-to-ride programme, aims to settle the nerves of participants.

At the Sports Hub's 100Plus Promenade yesterday morning, 13 beginner adult cyclists participated in a two-hour class.

Children who are already adept at cycling, weaved around on their bikes on their weekend rides, causing more anxiety and worry for the older learners.

The novices' nerves were not unnoticed by Michael Lyons, the cycling coach for the Project Training Wheels.

"Early on in the session you could see people and the anxiety on their faces," he said.

"Once we got them smiling, it's very hard for them to be tense. The rest of the body will follow the face and be relaxed."

Christine Lim was one of the participants. The 39-year-old had previously completed the Polar Boot Camp to upgrade her fitness and also a bike-fitting session at Loue Bicycles prior to her first cycling class.

RIDING HIGH

Cycling is a core activity, so the moment you hunch over on the bike, the balance goes and you won't be supporting yourself. When you sit tall, you're supporting yourself.''

MICHAEL LYONS, cycling coach of Project Training Wheels, on how keeping one's balance is an important part of cycling.

Lyons, 58, first taught the group how to scoot with their bikes to train their balance on two wheels.

Next, the group was challenged to start pedalling.

"It's all about sitting tall and having your head up," said Lyons, as he helped adjust the saddle height for a participant.

"Not being stiff and looking 10,000 yards away, but sitting tall for a start and having your core activated.

"Cycling is a core activity, so the moment you hunch over on the bike, the balance goes and you won't be supporting yourself. When you sit tall, you're supporting yourself."

The novices tried again, and progress was made slowly but surely.

After a tentative start, Lim gained confidence to start pedalling on her own and succeeded.

She had conquered her fear of riding on a two-wheeler and can now cycle for brief periods. "It was a fantastic ride," she said jubilantly after the session.

"I am not very good yet, but as a beginner it's a good start for me to gain some confidence on the bicycle."

Her husband Wallace Tan was present to support her.

"I'm very impressed," the 38-year-old said.

"I thought she was just going to have a feel on how to move off, I didn't ever think she could actually pedal a decent distance. I think it's a very decent achievement for her today."

Learning how to cycle in a group was something that benefited the novices, and Lyons thought that "everyone pulled everyone along" during the session.

He noted: "With Christine, I could see that she was on her way. She was always sitting tall on the bike so it was apparent it was going to be easy for her.

"After she started to pedal, we could then put the seat higher up. By putting the saddle higher up, it meant that she had to be in a place she was confident about.

"It became a self-fulfilling prophecy that she would keep getting better and better."

"Homework" was issued to the group after the session, with Lyons giving them drills like balancing on a Swiss ball and practising scooting in quiet and spacious areas like car parks.

"Now their bodies are going to process the new awareness of what it's like to balance. This may sink in for the next day or week."

With about two months left to the OCBC Cycle (Nov 18-19), Lim is confident in learning how to cycle and completing the 23km ST Ride.

"It was fantastic and I'm very happy. I'm also confident in learning how to cycle over the next two sessions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'One pedal closer to embark on 23km ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe