I just got back from almost four hours in a classroom. What a way to start the weekend! But it was a good thing, because it dealt with bikes. I went to Road I, a class offered by the League of American Bicyclists.
The League offers several classes in different aspects of bicycle riding. Road I is their most basic. It concentrates on training new riders to ride safely in traffic, but also includes such skills as basic maintenance, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques.
The class met in a meeting room tucked behind the storeroom of a local REI, the outdoors co-op. Six students showed up – about the number I’d guessed would be there. They had a variety of biking backgrounds: a couple of mountain bikers, a new commuter, some club riders. One thing they all had in common – including the two instructors – was that they were all women. I was the only guy in the room.
Some of the instruction was really basic: These are the recommended clothes to wear while biking, this is a helmet, these are two different kinds of shoes, etc. To the instructor’s credit, she quickly surveyed the room, and passed over these items in short order. Much better was a PowerPoint presentation explaining such things as proper lane position when riding on city streets. The presentation featured videos of bikes moving through traffic, “taking the lane,” and instruction on how to deal with different situations encountered on the road, such as approaching freeway on and off ramps, railroad crossings, and emergency moves.
Class was capped off with a 30-question multiple choice test over what we’d just learned (I missed two. In school, that’d still be good for an A.).
Road I is a two-part class. The classroom session is followed on Saturday morning by a five-hour on-bike session, actually practicing the techniques we heard about tonight. But, bad news: tomorrow’s session has been cancelled! The instructor is out of town on business, and our classroom teacher won’t be available. I’ll have to wait until the end of April to get the on-bike part. Disappointing, yes, but I did come away with new information, and I’ll be putting it to use in my next several rides.