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What happens at cycling tuition?

Pedal Ahead! teaches to the National Standard for Cycling Tuition. There are three essential skills involved in being able to ride a bike independently – balance, coordination, and locomotion. Each learner has different needs. We will assess exactly what you/your child need/s in order to teach them as efficiently as possible.

For Improvers, who have can already pedal at least ten metres without stabilisers and without help, we teach Level One of the National Standards for Cycling Instruction (off-road), Level Two (beginning to ride on the road) and Level Three (more challenging roads).

What happens at a learn to ride class?

Firstly, we will make sure your bike is safe to ride and your helmet fits properly.  Then we will show you how to get on and off a bike properly.  A lot of people struggle with this, knowing how to get on and off properly will help you enormously.

For most people we will then teach you to scoot the bike, which involves making the bike move by pushing it along with the feet on the ground.  You will not be attempting to use the pedals at this stage.  During scooting, we will concentrate on improving your balance and body posture.  If you learn balance and body posture correctly during scooting then it will make it much easier to learn to pedal.

With younger children, we may advise you to temporarily remove the pedals or use a balance bike at this stage.

When our instructors think you are ready to pedal, then we will show you the correct technique for pedalling.  Sometimes, especially with a young child, we will suggest a mixture of pedalling and scooting.  Each learner is different when it comes to pedalling and our instructors will coach you accordingly.

We will also teach you how to use the brakes correctly.  This is another thing that many people get wrong and then end up skidding or wobbling.  If you know how to brake properly then it is a much smoother experience.

Once you can consistently pedal for ten metres without help and without stopping, then you are ready for Level One.

What happens at a Level One class?

Level One builds on Learn To Ride and includes the following off-road activities:

  • recap of pedalling technique including start position
  • recap of correct braking technique
  • making the bike go where you want
  • looking behind
  • controlling the bike with one hand
  • slow cycling
  • emergency braking and emergency swerve
  • showing respect and consideration for other people and animals in the park.

If your child is due to do Bikeability at school, then these are all things that children are assessed on at Bikeability, so our class will help them to get their Bikeability certificate much more easily.

Once you have completed Level One, we will advise you of your options for doing Levels Two and Three, on the road.  If the learner is a child then this will be discussed with the parent and we will only teach a child on the road if we agree with the parent that it is safe to do so.

How long will it take to learn to ride?

A small number of children and adults learn to pedal in a few minutes, but for many children, it takes one or two sessions. It’s not uncommon for it to take three or four sessions. There is nothing to be worried about. If you’ve tried to teach your child yourself and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, then it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. If we think it’s going to take longer than one or two sessions, we will discuss this with you as early as possible to help you plan.

Why isn’t my child pedalling yet?

Young children of 4, 5, 6 and even 7 are still learning balance, coordination, and locomotion. Our tutors will teach them ways to improve their balance, coordination, and locomotion to prepare them for pedalling.

Many people put their feet and pedals in an incorrect position when pedalling. We often see parents trying to teach their children to pedal the same way. This doesn’t always work. Our tutors will teach your child the correct positioning of the feet and pedals.

Sometimes we see children attempting to ride a bike that is too small for them, or is the wrong shape. Some types of bike are more difficult to learn on than others. If we think this is the case we will offer you the free use of one of our bikes for the next session. Often, changing bike is enough for someone to be able to pedal. Once your child has learned on one bike, they will be capable of riding any bike and can go back to their favourite bike if they want to. We will also advise you on what to look out for when buying a new or second hand bike for your child.

My child has additional needs – can they still learn to pedal?

If your child has any additional needs, e.g. autism, dyspraxia, hypermobility, learning difficulties, then please tell us when you book. Our tutors have experience in this area and we may be able to offer your child a one to one session. Even if your child doesn’t have a diagnosis but you think they have a condition that affects their ability to cycle, then pleasetell us anyway.

Every child is different and everyone learns at their own pace. It takes as long as it takes. Most of all, please trust our tutors, they are the experts.

Who are your tutors?

Pedal Ahead’s Founder and Principal Tutor is Phil Beardmore. He has been teaching adults and children to cycle since 2014, having previously worked for Cycle South Brum. He specialises in learn to ride and in teaching children with additional needs including autism, hypermobility and dyspraxia. Outside of Pedal Ahead, Phil is an Environmental and Sustainability Consultant, advising businesses and householders on energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste, and water saving. He lives in Birmingham with his two grown-up daughters and spends as much time as possible with his new partner, Claire.

We work occasionally with freelance tutors who meet our high standards of communication, patience and calmness.

Can I teach my own child?

You’ve been there for your child throughout their whole life. You potty-trained them. You sang Ten Green Bottles to them in the bath so they would learn maths. You taught them to read. You should be able to teach them to cycle … but you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Don’t worry – it’s normal. Some children need a little help. Our Pedal Ahead online – Teach Your Child to Cycle online course will give you the tools and techniques you need to get your child pedalling confidently and consistently. Register now and we will email you when it’s ready to buy.

What should I bring to class?

You should bring a bike and helmet.  We strongly recommend the use of a helmet for adults and respectfully request that children wear one.  We will advise you on correct fitting of the helmet, including if your cultural or religious beliefs mean that you need extra help with fitting a helmet e.g. for a veil or turban.  If you are outside the UK and we are teaching you by video, then you should make yourself aware of any local laws or regulations concerning helmet use.

You should wear suitable clothing and footwear.  When learning to ride, it is not advisable to wear shorts, as your legs may brush against the pedals while you are learning.  It is best to wear jeans while learning to ride.  Please bring a bottle of water.  We also advise you to wear gloves, even in warm weather, as they prevent your fingers from getting tired.  They don’t have to be specialist cycling gloves, any gloves or mittens will help.

Nervous children may bring a favourite toy such as a teddy bear or doll, as long as they understand that you will hold on to the toy while they are riding.

Bike hire

You may be able to borrow a child or adult bike from Cycle South Brum for a small charge, subject to availability.  Please contact Cycle South Brum directly and mention that you were referred by Pedal Ahead!  Bikes are available for day loan only so you will need to pick it up and take it back on the same day as your class.  You can also hire adult folding bikes from Brompton Bike Hire, who have bike docks in several locations in Birmingham.

How do I book?

We can teach in most areas of Birmingham.  If you can’t find the date and location you need, please contact us.

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