Introduction to Pedals

We are ready to ride! During this lesson we highly recommend using cycling gloves and knee and elbow pads in addition to a helmet to reduce the likelihood of scrapes or bruises in the event of a fall.

Remember, falling is part of learning to ride a bike, but your rider has learned how to “fall with style” and control their speed. If they do crash, give them the care and support they need in a calm and empathetic manner, and then get them back on the bike as soon as possible.

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Progression:

  • Step 1: Install your rider’s pedals and practice gliding.

  • Step 2: Teach them the “one, two, three, feet up” drill and encourage them to try to glide or pedal with their feet on the pedals.

  • Step 3: See if your rider can pedal a few times while balancing.

PROFICIENCY Test:

  • Your rider has expressed clear interest in riding with pedals.

  • Your rider can sit on a stationary bike and lift their feet onto the pedals without looking.

  • Your rider can demonstrate “one, two, three, feet up” while gliding.

Preparing for Pedals: Now it’s time to install the pedals and introduce your rider to how the cranks and pedals work.

  • Have your rider help you (or your local bike shop) install their pedals on their bike.

  • With the bike in a stand (or off the ground), show them how the pedals move in circles and how they make the back wheel move. Show them how if the pedals stop moving, the wheel will keep moving (as long as it is not a “fixie” which we highly discourage).

  • With the bike on the ground, have your rider sit on the seat. Have a capable adult straddle the front wheel while holding onto the inside of the handlebar grips, this will help stabilize your rider and help them balance as they practice finding the pedals with their feet. Give some resistance if the rider tips, but encourage the rider to keep finding their balance by sitting up tall.

  • Without support, have your rider practice lifting both feet off the ground and place them on the pedals, then lowering them back down to the ground. Encourage them to do this without looking at their feet. Start using the phrase “one, two, three, feet up” and see how fast they can find the pedals without looking down or tipping to either side (the supporting adult should still be holding their balance).

Gliding with Pedals: Have your rider practice gliding through the obstacle course with the pedals installed. They will need to learn to avoid hitting the pedals with their legs. Have them practice slowing, stopping, and dismounting (including emergency dismounts).

One, two, three, feet up!: Once they get comfortable gliding with the pedals installed, it’s time to see if they can ride with their feet on the pedals. Have your rider:

  • Start sitting on the bike, ideally on a very gradual downward slope. Just as in part 1, have them push off with both feet three times and as they start to glide, encourage them to try to find the pedals with their feet. Use the command “one, two, three, feet up” and challenge them to try to glide with their feet on the pedals.

  • Some riders will pick this up very quickly and will start pedaling on their own at point. If so, keep reinforcing the previous lessons (controlled slowing, stopping, and steering) as they get more comfortable riding.

  • Other riders may take a few tries before they feel comfortable with their feet on the pedals. Encourage them to continue practicing “one, two, three, feet up” while gliding. Then see if they can make circles with the pedals as they glide. It’s okay if they need to use their feet for balance, just keep encouraging them to use the pedals as much as possible.