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Need riding lessons? These coaches have you covered

Posted by on May 21st, 2020 at 1:04 pm

You got this! Pretty soon you’ll be riding as smooth as this guy.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s often said that we “never forget how to ride a bike”. But what if you never learned? Or what if you’ve never biked in a city or just don’t have the confidence to enjoy it?

With so many people seeking the freedom, utility, and health benefits of cycling these days, there’s a good chance some of the folks dusting off bikes could use a refresher course. And for people that never learned, riding lessons could unlock a life-changing skill.

If you or someone you know needs lessons, here are two local resources that can help.

Gracie’s Wrench

Gracie’s Wrench owner Tori Bortman has been helping people learn about their bikes since 2006 (I took one of her mechanic classes in 2007). She’s also the author of Bicycling Magazine’s Big Book of Cycling for Beginners.

Bortman offers three types of lessons geared toward beginner or novice riders:

Road Bike Riding Skills
Want to learn how to master your road bike? Whether you want to polish your climbing, descending, cornering or drafting skills, we can help. One-on-one or get a group of your friends together, we’ll get you rolling more smoothly in no time.

Learn to Ride
Want to learn how to master two-wheels for the first time? Whether you’re a kid or a kid-at-heart, we can help. Not everyone has an easy time learning how to get going on a bike. We offer safe, supportive, individualized one-on-one lessons for both adults and youth.

Everyday Riding Consults
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about cycling but were afraid to ask. This program offers one-on-one consultation with a seasoned expert, customized to meet your goals and needs.

If you’re concerned about Covid-19, Bortman says she’s open for business with special precautions and limitations. Find out more at GraciesWrench.com.

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Wenzel Coaching

A Wenzel coach in action.
(Photo: Wenzel Coaching)

Wenzel Coaching has over 25 years of experience and their coaching staff has worked with many of our area’s top competitors. But they offer much more than training for races.

Wenzel’s beginner cycling lessons ($90 for a 90-minute session) cover all the basics including: how to get on-and-off your bike, starting and stopping, using gears, choosing the right bike, downhilling, cycling in traffic, hand signals, and more.

“A 90 minute can make a world of difference,” shared Kendra Wenzel. “It doesn’t have to be taught the old fashioned way of the teacher holding onto the bike and then hoping for the best. That doesn’t work well with adults anyway, so even with the social distancing guidelines in place, an adult can be taught to ride as soon as they are ready to take the step.”

Landi Saifer is one of Wenzel’s coaches who teaches adult how to ride. She says the biggest barrier for new riders is conquering fear. Most of her clients are afraid of falling or just looking foolish, so Saifer focuses on balance. After having clients stand on one foot and shift their weight around, she introduces the bike. “I get them on the bike, sitting on the saddle and scooting as though they had no pedals,” Saifer says. “If they can coast a bit, that is great because the next thing I do is have them put the brakes on, scoot, coast, brake so that they gain confidence in stopping themselves and learn to use the brakes.”

Once the fear subsides, the smiles begin. “By the last 30 minutes, they’re having fun, excited and feeling confident.” The entire lesson can be done without contact and Saifer says she stays six feet apart the entire time. Instructors and clients wear masks at all times to avoid spreading or catching the virus.

Learn more at WenzelCoaching.com.

Happy riding!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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