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Monday, 17 December 2012

Age proves to be no barrier when re-learning to ride a bike

Rhyl

Macedon Ranges Shire Council and AustCycle are helping local residents improve their bike skills, giving one 60-year-old lady the confidence and desire to start her own social riding group.

Now semi-retired and in her early 60’s, local Kyneton resident Rhyl Gould was keen to re-learn an old skill – how to ride a bike. But, given that she hadn’t ridden a bike for generations, Rhyl didn’t quite know how to begin.  

It was after finding a local AustCycle program that Rhyl decided to take the plunge, completing a six-week bike handling skills course that was run as part of the Council’s Healthy and Active People Initiative. Rhyl then backed this up with a second AustCycle course, this time learning the skills to ride in traffic.

“I was terrified to begin with,” Rhyl said. “When I first learned to ride a bike you just pushed back on the pedals to brake. It took a bit of practice to get the handlebar brake action down pat, as well as learning to stop and start and signal properly”.

“[But] within three weeks of the program I was riding independently, without any help from the instructors”.

The AustCycle course allowed local residents to participate in six weeks of free cycle training where they were taught proper mounting and dismounting techniques, the skills for safely braking, balancing and cornering, how to conduct a basic bike check, as well as how to ride on hills and change gears.

Rhyl said completing the course gave her such a feeling of accomplishment and she attributes part of her success to the instructors and other participants.

“We had a mixed group, some were a bit more advanced and were looking to improve their skills, others hadn’t ridden for many years and were starting out again like me”.

“The support of the instructors, along with the encouragement from the other participants, was really wonderful and we all enjoyed the social side of a group activity by chatting in class and sitting down for a coffee at the end of the course”.

Now a lover of riding, Rhyl plans to continue cycling and hopes to inspire others to get back on their bikes. She also hopes to start a small group of social riders.

“Cycling is great for mental and physical problems,” she said. “Even for people with joint problems, it is a great form of exercise because it has minimal weight bearing. It’s also great to connect with other people in the community and get out and about the town more often”.

“It really is a tremendous feeling to be riding and learning a new skill. Finding out that you can do is a big confidence booster. And, best of all, there is no lycra in sight in this program!”

AustCycle’s aim is to provide high quality cycle education and training to every member of the Australian community regardless of background, age and skill level in order to improve public health, support the environment and reduce traffic congestion.

To register interest in the next Macedon Ranges training program contact the Healthy Communities Team on healthycommunities@mrsc.vic.gov.au or 5422 0216.

And, if you need access to a bicycle or require transport, child or respite assistance to be able to participate, don’t hesitate to contact the Team who can assist you with this. 

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