Wanting to ride with a partner or friend was the motivation for several participants in a recent New Horizons course.
Andrew Metcalfe, Mary Barr and Glenn Elliot each have partners and friends who ride but they needed to improve their own bike skills to keep up.
For Mary Barr, the stretch from ‘novice’ to ‘capable’ was a big one. Mary had started learning to ride with the aim of joining a cycling holiday in New Zealand with her husband and a group of friends.
“Unfortunately when I got there, my skills weren’t up to it and I fell off on day one.
“Coming back to Canberra, the first thing I did was enrol in New Horizons. The course combines theory and practice with a step-by-step building of cycling skills.
‘”The instructors are excellent and a number of experienced volunteers come along to provide coaching support.
“I was riding 50km and loving it by the end of the nine week course.
“Next year, my husband and I plan to ride with friends in the Loire Valley. For me, this would not be possible without New Horizons.”
A serious bike accident and loss of confidence motivated Andrew Metcalfe to refresh his cycling skills and to keep up with his wife, Jenny, who rides regularly.
“Cycling is the perfect antidote to working long hours,” Andrew said. “New Horizons offers a Friday and Saturday group, which is great for people who work.
“The course was very well organised and I take my hat off to the instructors who could accommodate a diverse range of skills and fitness levels.
“On the rides, we formed groups according to our different capabilities and by the end of the course, it was fantastic to see how far everyone had progressed.
‘”I got all I wanted from New Horizons. I regained my confidence on the bike, learnt new skills and now enjoy riding on weekends with my wife and in a group.’
Glenn Elliot’s wife, Heather, rides a mountain bike and takes off for long adventures around the Canberra region. To enjoy this with her, Glenn decided to skill up on a brand new bike.
“I hadn’t ridden much for the past 20 years,” Glenn said, “but Heather had done the New Horizons course and knew the value of learning all the right things from the ground up.
“I was a bit cynical at first, thinking I could ride but really, I didn’t know all the essentials that Pedal Power teaches – simple things like mounting and dismounting correctly, passing and riding safely in a group.
“I found the course so useful – the cycling skills, bike maintenance, fixing punctures, what to wear to be protected and of course, using gears. On a mountain bike, if you can’t anticipate or change gears fast enough, you’ll fall off.”
Since New Horizons, Glenn rides with Heather and friends, and has joined Pedal Power’s weekly mountain bike ride with Brian Kalms.
Coordinator Sue Lake invites Pedal Power members to spread the word.
“Participants achieve a lot over nine weeks,” Beth said.
“Practical sessions start gently with basic bike riding skills and we teach these in a logical sequence to build confidence. Short rides along bike paths include a café stop and a chance to get to know other riders.
“From there, skills are built upon each week and the rides become longer and more interesting.
“It’s not unusual for a nervous, unskilled rider to be able to ride confidently from Eaglehawk to Gundaroo and back by the end of the course. It’s a wonderful thing to see.”
This article originally appeared in the September issue of Canberra Cyclist magazine.