Here is what the two girls I’m teaching have learned over the past three Pedal Power with Pattie lessons and are practicing this week before our next lesson. FYI, we sing a little song I made up about the parts of the bike; we do “Simon Says Signals”; and we “pass a tiger on the trail” to learn trail etiquette. Oh, and there’s a “squirrel” involved with the quick stop. You never know when the squirrel’s gonna run out in front of you! (To my fellow bike riders, you know how rubber-hits-the-road real this is, especially now when squirrels are out there frantically gathering nuts!) We also chat, laugh, run up and down hillsides, and talk about our personal power a lot. I learn far more than I teach. (And, yes, we’re masked and socially distanced.)
The list on the left is for a girl who just learned to pedal (and just moved to a bike with hand brakes this week). The part that her hand is covering says, “Falling safely.” She will really need to spend a good amount of time simply becoming comfortable operating the bike before she’s ready for hazard avoidance skills. (Note: when I teach new riders of any age, I ask them to circle back to me after a month of regular riding before we move on.) Next up for her would be things like riding in a straight line, turning her head while still going straight, and riding with one hand at a time so she starts getting ready for scanning and signaling. Plus, sidewalk-riding safety tips so she can get from her home to the park and path.
The list on the right is for a girl a couple of years older than her sister who already has strong bike handling skills (which we refreshed) and who learned hazard avoidance skills easily. Her next step is rules of the road (as she is about to “age out” of riding legally on the sidewalk in the city where she lives*), as well as self-defense specific to girls and women as she is at the prime age for sex trafficking and the age where there is a steep onset of sexual harassment in public spaces. (Note: If you’re wondering why I target girls and women for my classes, it’s reasons such as this. This is not mentioned at all in the League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling curriculum, which I am certified to teach, and , in fact, a few things in that curriculum work contrary to reality for girls and women**. I have added additional information to my lessons based on lived and researched experience.) She also is at higher risk for racial profiling so things like making sure she has reflectors/lights and a bell (both required by law), and that she stops at red lights and stop signs serve safety purposes in more than one way.
Oh, here is that little “flossing” tip video I mentioned in this post. The girls seem to enjoy learning bike maintenance and basic bike mechanics, which I include in every lesson. Chain-cleaning (which included little “hugs” of the chain to remove the excess lube) was a big hit last week. Next week, we’re fixing a flat.
If you’d like to access my Pedal Power with Pattie class, I make it available via daily text and free downloadable PDF. I’ll also be offering it once each month in person throughout Metro Atlanta for free, limited to three teen girls and/or women due to COVID-19. This will coincide with this calendar. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you may enjoy my Bonus Resources, which includes a handful of tips videos.
These classes are made available through proceeds from my book. Thank you for your support.
* I invite Metro Atlanta cities to consider changing that law, as the City of Dunwoody recently did. Here’s why.
** An example would be the Smart Cycling recommendation for bike riders to make eye contact with drivers. For girls and women, this can often lead to and exacerbate harassment and the potential for increased dangers.