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iLearnToCycle by FindingCalm

29 May

FindingCalm was inspired by her workmates who cycled daily to and from work. She got a bike and literary taught herself how to ride, with help from said workmates. Her tips

 

Learning how to cycle when you are an adult is not difficult. There’s the frustration of not having learnt how when you were a child and the general shock from peers of your having missed out on a ‘childhood rite-of-passage’. However, learning how to cycle is easy regardless of age. All you need is patience; and if you can manage it, a fun attitude.

 

If you are fortunate as I was, you’ll have all your buddies offering to teach you. It was sweet, but they all had different approaches to how I should go about starting, and in the end, I chose to try and teach myself. It is possible to teach yourself how to cycle in under an hour.

You need to have a bicycle suitable to your height, and a bicycle helmet.

 

If you have to struggle to get on the bicycle, then it’s too big for you. It should also not be too low that you have to bend over; this will strain your back. A bicycle that you can sit on with your feet firmly planted on the ground is the ideal fit. It often is necessary, to completely lower the bicycle seat. The more comfortable you are, the better your experience and confidence. It makes you calm when you don’t have to worry about falling over.

 

The first cycling skill to learn is steering, i.e. being able to steer the bicycle along a straight line. A location with a smooth and very gentle slope is best.  The idea of finding a gentle slope is so that you will not have to propel yourself forward and instead roll down gently.

 

To start, go to the top of the top of the gentle slope, hold the bicycle brakes, sit comfortably on the bicycle, and then when you are ready, gently let go of the brakes, raise both your feet off the ground (do not peddle, just keep your feet raised above ground), and gently coast down the slope. At the end of the slope, get off the bicycle, push the bicycle back up the slope, and do it again, until you are confident that you have mastered steering the bicycle in a straight line.

 

I repeated this up to 20 times. It’s just one of those things, when you have no experience, it seems daunting, but with experience, it becomes darn easy. You’ll notice that you tend to steer towards where you are looking. So focus on what’s ahead of you to quickly get a hang of steering on a straight line.

 

When you are comfortable that you have the steering down, you can move onto peddling. Before you attempt peddling, if your bicycle has gears, adjust the gears to the lower gears (i.e. the front gear should be at 1, the back gear should be at 4 or lower). Go back up to the top of the slope, and this time, instead of coasting down the slope, try peddling down the slope, gently.

 

Your peddling should be smooth and gentle. Don’t be forceful. Breathe in, relax, and gently peddle.

 

Repeat this, until you are comfortably steering and peddling. W hen you are confident that you have reasonably mastered steering and peddling, you can then try cycling on a flat surface.

 

The more time you spend cycling, the more your confidence will grow and so will your cycling skill.

 

Cycling is such fun, and is a fun way to enjoy the “great outdoors”. Cycling opens up new opportunities, not only in fitness, but in learning about yourself. It tests your boundaries, and builds courage in facing your fears, so you also grow as a person.

This video demonstrates how an adult learns to cycle.
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GreatForSocializing

19 Sep

I got into cycling, because of the guys I work with. Initially I found it odd that they use bicycles to commute. Especially in this city, where drivers are mad, not to mention the erratic matatu drivers. But after sometime, I began to think it was cool. While I was walking to the bus stop to pick a mat (public transport vehicle), these guys would just whoosh-by on their way home, and would definitely get there before I did.

It’s how I commute now. It’s such fun. Once you get the bug, you just want to do more of it. Over the weekends I try to do a long ride to the outskirts of the city. I love these rides –  the fresh air, scenic roads, and sparse traffic and you can go really fast – get to use the hard gears.

There’s this cycling norm, where you all say “Hi” to each other, and if you are going the same way, you pace one another – this really helps if the route has a lot of climbs. Cyclists are friendly, never met one who wasn’t. Through these interactions, your skill improves, you discover new routes, and in this sense your world broadens just a little, every time. Lovely bicycle has a different take on socializing on a bike and the pace as she tries to keep the bunch, while CYCLISMESPANDELLES, in a few words, admits to being an anti-social cyclist.
Came across this awesome video, a positive manifesto on living based on cycling.
Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling! HugACyclist!

SheFallsOff…

5 Jun

There are loads of reasons to pick up cycling, but the one that’s had a most profound effect on me has been ‘loosing shame’, from the numerous times I’ve fallen off the bike.

 Being a cyclist who wears protective gear draws some attention, and being a chic draws more. You become a sort of spectacle not to mention target of lewd commentaries, occasionally. I’m one of those introverted types – just want to stay below the radar and avoid drawing too much attention. So cycling was extremely uncomfortable, though the freedom of movement outweighed the discomfort.
The unease I had, reduced greatly every time I fell. The first time I fell, was during my first week as a cyclist, and it happened smack in the middle of the road, in front of a matatu (Public Service transport Vehicle). Some guys came out to find out if I was okay. Others came rushing from across the road. I was not hurt. It was just so embarrassing. I felt ashamed to have worried these good people, when it was just a silly fall. Got back on the bike, all dirty, and rode home. Bike Snob NYC, light-heartedly tells us how to take it with a pinch of salt while VeloGirls give a more technical approach to it.
Thereafter I tried really hard to avoid falling. Which is unavoidable really, it’s kinda like ‘it comes with cycling’, and these tips for falling like a pro can come in handy. Kenyan drivers do not see cyclists, and a passenger can open the door of a moving car to get off, right in the middle of slow traffic!!
The next time I fell, I was less embarrassed. The last time I fell, last month, the shame aspect was pretty much non-existent. When this fear of embarrassing yourself dies, you find that you become more confident. You can push the boundaries, you get to know your limits: how fast/far you can go, which spaces are too small to maneuver through, which climbs are falsely steep, and which flats are unrelenting ascends.
This pushing boundaries has had a profound effect on my work and personal life. After the bangs and scrapes, I find that I take more risks. Because in pushing the boundaries, do you know what lies beyond?. As a result, one grows and has more experience avenues to draw from, which comes in handy while making decisions.
I suppose, accepting that falling happens, and of those times, you got up and going again, slowly becomes ingrained in your psyche. Ultimately changing who you are, such that, the things you want to be/do, become things you can try to do, without the shame of failure seeming so contemptible, that it holds you back from making any attempts.
Author: FindingCalm

Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling!

FindingCalm _ New Author on SheCyclesNairobi

18 Apr

Introducing a new author – named “FindingCalm” – on the blog as we turn SheCyclesNairobi into a Nairobi female cyclist community. She writes:

I have always thought that it would be cool if I had been born with a “brain on/brain off switch”. This way, I can know some ‘tranquility’, as my brain finds rest from the pesky thoughts bubbling in my head. Things I did, things I should have done. Things I need to do, things I probably need to do but don’t. And ultimately the regrets of not doing many of them at all.

Aside from the impracticability of having a brain on/brain off switch, there is a likelihood it can be hit by mistake or your proxy forgets to switch you back on at the agreed time. I fancy knowing such ‘peace’. I also imagined that booting back would rid me of aimless thoughts, that would be ‘trashed’ and I can begin a refreshed.

This was before I picked up cycling.

As with any other sport, for other athletes, cycling is my brain off switch. While cycling, I find myself relieved of the burden of having to think through problems or planning my day, I just enjoy the ride. I used to commute on public transport listening to music or podcast, but even then, I’d find myself planning for the day ahead, or trying to come up with solutions to pending issues.

Starting point - good road, sparse traffic


My morning commute rides are enjoyable because my route is relatively downhill, with barely any climbs. I can go fast. There’s nothing like the cool morning wind on your face to get you fully awake. There’s no room in my brain for anything that will distract me from staying alert to the vulnerability of cycling in Nairobi. By the time I get to the office, I am on an endorphin-high. After freshening up I sit at my desk as my body winds down from the ride, leaving a mental stillness that makes it easy to focus and plan for the day.

The newly constructed highways; smooth, open, good for fast riding.


The ride back home is mostly a gentle climb, with a descent at the very end. So the mild strain going up, somehow rids me of whatever disappointments I experienced during the day. Just calm. The short descent at the very end, is always refreshing. I love the rush as I gain speed, and abruptly come to a stop. Finally home. 

Bit of rough road, engages a bit of off-road riding.


As with any repetitive action, it finally becomes an automatic reflex. It’s so with cycling. The more you cycle, the quicker your reflexes and the more automated those reflexes become. Coupled with the familiarity of my commute route, my bike rides are typically dream-like. Free of mulling over stuff, at each destination, work or home, I find that when I do get down to addressing things that need doing, the solutions came fast and easily. Turns out, I am a much nicer person to be around these days.
Author: FindingCalm
Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling!