Dear Dr. Wally
I have a bike and know how to balance on it. What more do I need? The sales guy said I should have a helmet and he even offered some free classes. It's all bunk. Everyone knows how to ride a bike!
Broderick in Crawford
Owning a bicycle and knowing how to balance it is much like have a 44 magnum and only knowing how to load the bullets. It's like having a pit bull and not investing any time in training him. It's like having a car and a seat belt, and thinking that's enough to know about driving.
Some people insist that a helmet is essential, and it is, if you're planning to crash. In your case, definitely buy a helmet. Better yet, buy two because you'll be twice as safe.
But let's assume you're not intending to crash. You'd rather avoid it. That's understandable, but how do you go about learning not to crash? There are a couple of ways, actually. The one I went through was call the School of Hard Knocks and Bitter Experience. I don't recommend it to anyone more intelligent than a small kitchen appliance. So, assuming you can outwit the toaster most of the time, you'll probably benefit from the other approach, and that's to learn from an experienced instructor.
Local bike shops can refer you to a qualified instructor, or you can look on the League of American Bicyclists web page. The main advantage of formal training is that you gain the equivalent of a year of experience in a nine hour class. That's a big jump start toward confident, competent road cycling, and it's an approach I readily endorse.
From the Editor:
Dr Wally is presently taking applications for the coveted "Endorsed by Dr. Walter Crankset" seal of approval for regional bicycle programs. Interested parties can obtain the application from his website. Submit the form and the $25 application processing fee to the Dr. Wally Program c/o Larry's Cafe in downtown Broken Elbow, Oklahoma. Larry regrets that he cannot accept PayPal for payment of bar tabs or application fees.
Labels: bicycling humor