Last fall, our program manager, Khushpal Brar, took a CAN-Bike training course to refresh her bike riding skills. The two sessions went over the components of a bicycle, what to check before starting a bike ride, as well as braking, signalling, and the rules of the road. We sat down with her to find out how it went and whether she has advice for anyone else who wants to bike but doesn’t feel 100% confident.
Why did you want to re-learn how to ride a bike?
I had a blast cycling as a kid and I knew that there were a ton of awesome cycling paths in the city that I wanted to explore but I didn’t feel comfortable hitting the road after having not cycled for a very long time so I sought out the experts and did a CAN-Bike course.
What experience did you have with cycling before the training?
Like most people, my family taught me how to ride a bike and since I was regularly cycling with friends at that time, it became second nature. I stopped after middle school and never looked back until I moved to Toronto. It was my first time living in a city where cycling could be a better way of getting around compared to other travel methods.
How did you feel about cycling before your training?
My partner loves cycling, and he often beats my transit commute when we are travelling around the city. So, I knew riding a bike in Toronto can be safe, fun and quick. I didn’t have any negative feelings towards cycling before the CAN-Bike course, but I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to regain the confidence I used to have on a bike and that I would embarrass myself. Thankfully, I felt totally comfortable with my instructor and I knew she’d be able to help me improve.
What were your thoughts while you were doing the training?
Well, it turns out that the old saying “it’s like riding a bike” is actually true! Once I got on the bike, I found out I already knew how to ride, even if it wasn’t always in a straight line. That got rid of my nerves and even though I didn’t pick up all the skills immediately or complete all the exercises perfectly, I knew I could do it, I just needed practice.
How do you feel about cycling now that you’ve completed the training?
I’m not nervous about making mistakes now and I’m excited to practice the skills I learned during the course so I can hit the trails!
What would you say to someone who wants to learn to ride a bike?
You’re completely capable of learning these skills and I found that it was more of a mindset issue than anything else. I would strongly recommend getting a certified instructor rather than have a friend or family member teach you. It can be harder to go outside your comfort zone when you’re nervous about embarrassing yourself in front of friends or family but you’re less likely to have those issues with an instructor you trust.
Is there any place you’re looking forward to exploring now that you know how to ride a bike?
Last summer, I went to Niagara on the Lake with my partner and there were a ton of cyclists and bike rentals, but we didn’t get a chance to ride. I hope we can do that this summer!
Do you have any advice for other beginner cyclists?
When you feel nervous or embarrassed, keep in mind all the fun activities you’ll be able to do once you learn the skills.