"I know I "should" not care what other people think, but the shame is so strong. What to do about it?"
Instead of feeling shame for yourself turn the shame on them. Not knowing how to ride a bike shouldn't be looked on as a 'dirty secret' it's just a skill you're working on perfecting. Don't be discouraged by other mean spirited people. Riding a bike can be learned with practice. Those other folk's, have the bigger problem they'll most likely never conquer and it's causing them to metaphorically fall flat on their face every single day.
I think if you put everything in the right context, you'll find yourself not letting it bother you so much.
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I'm actually a little unique in that I never was taught how to ride a bike. I spent the first 13 years of my life living in an apartment, and having a bike was an inconvenience, so I never had one.
One day, when I was around 9 years old, I was at the park with my sister and some kids my mom was babysitting. The girl my mom was watching lived across the street from the park, and she had her bike there. On a whim, I asked to borrow it. I hopped on and started riding. I never rode a two-wheeler before.
Not too long after that, I got a bike- probably for my Birthday. One day, when riding that bike, I tried to do a u-turn, and I fell. I still have the scar on my elbow today. I definitely think turns are the hardest thing to master.
So, I know I was still a kid when I learned to ride a bike, but I was still older than most kids when they learn to ride a bike. I remember feeling embarrassed that I didn't know how to ride a bike when everyone I knew was able to ride one.
I also remember learning to ride one. Turns were the worst, and after my accident, I actually dismounted the bike to turn around. I've learned that wider turns were easier to start. Why not find an empty parking lot to practice in? Having a place where you can make wider turns should make it easier. Once you are able to handle the wider turns, then you can work your way towards tighter turns- like making a u-turn or turning a corner.
It gets better. Don't be afraid to "walk" the turns at first. You'll figure out the balance, so you don't topple over.
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Even if everyone was staring and laughing because you crashed, that's not a good enough reason to stop your efforts at learning to ride a bike. When a person falls off a horse, what do we tell them ? Dust yourself off and get back on. If you want to learn to ride your bike, then you're going to have to accept that you're going to have some crashes. Believe me, it happens on a far regular basis than people think.
When you were training for your first marathon, how many miles did you run the first day ? I'll bet it wasn't 26. What did you do ? you TRAINED for the marathon. Well, if you want to ride a bike, you have to train the same way you did for your marathon.
So, why not look at riding your bike the same way you'd train for a marathon ? It really isn't all that different. What if people stare ? Let them. The worse thing you can do is quit because you're worried what someone else things. Let me assure you, no one cares. If they laughed at you, it was because you happened to be a convenient target. If you want people to stop laughing at you, you need to keep practicing your riding. The better you get at balancing on the bike, the better you'll start feeling.
And once again... going to keep encouraging you to take your bike to either a park, a bike path or a parking lot to practice riding and turning. The more you ride, the more your confidence will increase. Your confidence won't increase if your bike is sitting in a garage.
As far as swimming lessons, yes, they can be pricey. However, since you work at a gym, do you have access to a pool ? I would suggest negotiating a trade with one of the trainers who does teach swimming. Trade swimming lessons for running coaching or maybe kettlebell training.
If you can't afford swimming lessons right now, start saving your money so that you can learn later. For now, just concentrate on learning to ride your bike.
I taught my daughter to ride her bike in the school parking lot on weekends. It helped her learn to turn very wide corners as opposed to trying to turn around 90 degree corners (much less flipping a 180 and going back the other direction.) The added bonus was that the parking lot was deserted, and she didn't worry about anyone seeing her struggle.
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3,293 5/25/14 8:43 P
I have the opposite problem--I can swim forever and ride a bike with ease, but I can't run at all due to injuries. The lucky thing for you is that triathlons are heavily weighted in favor of running. :)
I would put on long pants and perhaps knee/elbow pads and go to an empty parking lot to practice. Schools and colleges on the weekends tend to have empty, open lots. Good luck!
Do what you need to do for yourself and ignore them. I would tell you to flash the people who laugh, but since it's not legal I don't advise it.
But if it were, I do.
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You are strong and healthy. If you want to learn to ride that bike, I think you should. In fact, you might really enjoy it. As far as those idiots that were laughing at you, don't give them a second thought. They probably can't run as far as you can, in their sleep.
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5/25/14 5:35 P
Contact the nearest bike shop near you & talk to the owner. Ask if there's someone there (or elsewhere) that he/she'd recommend to spend a couple hrs one-on-one w/ you. Most people at those stores are enthusiasts, and enthusiasts love to share and teach what they know. I know you took a class before, but was it one-on-one? Even if it was, maybe you telling a new instructor exactly what's vexing you might help. Every teacher's different, too.
I'm sure someone there would love to earn a few bucks and teach someone at the same time.
Like Arch said, meet on a less traveled road. Wear long pants to lessen the amt of scrapes.
As for the knuckleheads that were jerks? Ugh. I know it's tough but you are tougher. I just heard this past week that there's a large % of adults here in the US that don't know how to swim. Everyone's got something. I can't get off a ski chair lift without hitting the floor, thinking I'll get bonked in the head! I know comedy is based on tragedy (hence: the banana peel scenario) but only a jerk would point & laugh at someone in real life as opposed to trying to help.
Fitness Minutes: (107,791)
5/25/14 5:12 P
I would say good for you for getting out your bike and putting in an effort. Don't worry about having a crash or two. The same thing happened to me when I started riding after a gazillion years. Do you have a bike path near you or a good sized park with good pavement ? you may find it a bit less daunting to start practicing off the streets in a park or even a big parking lot to practice turns. Riding on the streets can be really hairy for someone learning to ride. That's why I suggest a bike path, park or parking lot to get the hang of it.
Also, did you have your bike checked ? If your bike has been sitting in a garage or basement for several years, you should have it tweaked. Any reputable bike shop should charge $35-$50 for a proper tweak to make sure everything is in working order. You can also have them check the fit as well as handle bar height. Some of the issues you had could have been a result of improper handle bar placement.
As far as swimming, okay, that IS the one thing I know how to do. When I was in school, you couldn't graduate unless you were able to pass a swimming test. So, I had lessons at school (as part of gym) as well as my local YMCA.
I'm not sure what's available in Canada, but they must have swimming lessons for adults. If you'd like to learn how to swim (and I'm going to encourage you to do it), you should start with lessons. You'd be surprized how many adults don't know how to swim. so, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
So, if you want to learn how to swim, consider taking lessons. You won't regret it.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall ? practice practice practice.
Edited by: ARCHIMEDESII at: 5/25/2014 (15:51)
Fitness Minutes: (107,791)
5/25/14 3:27 P
I have run well over 50 road races, including 9 marathons. The natural assumption is I can bike, swim and multisport is the natural progression. My dirty secret is that I can't swim or bike. I never learned as a child. In 2008, I took a 3 hour adult learn to bike course and can ride about 200 m down the street, but can't even turn a corner without falling. I went home after the class to practice and I SAW people leaning out of their cars, pointing and laughing. It was not my imagination. So fast forward to today and I got my bike out for the first time since 2008. Rode a straight farther than I ever have before, maybe 500 m? and turned my first corner but along the way crashed several times into trees, cars, curbs and fell off. And because it was a nice day, people were outside, staring and laughing.
I know I "should" not care what other people think, but the shame is so strong. What to do about it?
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