Cycling: Patience the key for participants under OCBC Cycle's Project Training Wheels

In the first of three learn-to-ride Project Training Wheels sessions by OCBC Cycle, cycling coach Michael Lyons gives tips on how rookies can pick up cycling.
Instructors from Tri Edge helping people to learn how to cycle under the Project Training Wheels initiative on Saturday.
Instructors from Tri Edge helping people to learn how to cycle under the Project Training Wheels initiative on Saturday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

As a gymnastics coach who can walk on a balance beam with her eyes closed, cycling should come easily to Zelia Chan.

But that is not the case for the 26-year-old, who can hardly balance on a scooter, much less on a bicycle.

"A lot of people expect me to have perfect balance, but the truth is I can't cycle for nuts," said Chan, who teaches artistic gymnastics to children aged three to 12 years old.

When Chan was six, her father used training wheels to teach her to cycle. But she became so reliant on them that she could not find her balance on a two-wheeler.

A bad fall when she was 10 kept her off cycling until last month, when her boyfriend nominated her for Project Training Wheels, OCBC Cycle's learn-to-ride programme.

"My boyfriend is an avid cyclist and he actually nominated me as a prank because he knows I can't cycle," said Chan. "But I'm going to learn how to cycle so we can go on cycling road trips together."

Chan attended the first of three sessions of Project Training Wheels with 14 other participants at the Singapore Sports Hub on Saturday. Led by professional cycling instructors, the two-hour class kicked off with ladder drills to train coordination and agility.

The participants then scooted on their bikes - one foot on the pedal and the other on the ground, pushing it along - to gain balance.

Said Chan: "The pace of the class is good, I like that we're taking it slow instead of going into pedalling straight away."

While some participants managed to cycle after the first session, others still struggled.

Nearly falling several times, Jayson Esguerra found it tough to keep both legs off the ground.

"I'm still struggling, but it's just the first day so we'll see how it goes," said the 31-year-old, who works in the IT industry.

As an avid marathoner, Esguerra hopes to learn how to ride so he can compete in triathlons.

Sports masseuse Tan Geok Mei's biggest hurdle is learning to relax while cycling. The 35-year-old has no problem scooting, but starts to panic when she attempts to pedal with both legs.

"I'm breaking the whole process down into separate steps instead of doing it in one fluent motion," she said. "I get so caught up with things like how to pedal and where to look that I get too tense."

Tan, however, found the session encouraging and is confident of being able to cycle by the end of the programme. The remaining two sessions will be held on March 17 and April 7, but the participants have already planned to meet and train on their own.

They will take part in the 23km The Straits Times Ride category at the OCBC Cycle from May 5 to 6.

• Online registration for OCBC Cycle is now open. For more information, visit www.ocbccycle.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2018, with the headline 'Rookie cyclists learn to strike a balance'. Print Edition | Subscribe