Learn to ride for free – 30 Days of Biking: Day 13

It was a surprisingly pleasant day in Manchester again.

I should’ve been out riding in fact: it was the Chorlton Wanderers‘ monthly ride, out to a pub near Bollington, but unfortunately I didn’t make it.

If you also thought that today was a good day to get riding, but maybe didn’t have the confidence to do so, then Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) can help. To help get more people get around on bikes, they’re offering free cycle training to everyone who lives and works in Greater Manchester.

There are two levels of training – Learn to Ride and On the Road:

Learn to Ride is designed for people who have never ridden a bike, or maybe not since they were a child. Held in a number of convenient venues, they cover: basic bike safety; how to ride a bicycle and an introduction to using the road. Attendees will be trained in groups of similar ability, so it should be a safe and friendly environment. They even provide bikes and helmets, though you can bring your own.

On the Road is for those who already cycle, maybe socially, but want a bit more experience. The course is designed around you – they’ll deliver it wherever and whenever is convenient for you and provide one-to-one instruction. I’ve actually taken a version of this training, though I arranged for it to be delivered at my workplace, so a small group of us took part.

Although when I did ‘on the road’ training, I’d been cycling for several months (in London to boot!), it was a really useful chance to chat with an experienced cycle instructor. She was more than willing to talk through any specific guidance about cycling ‘in the real world’. She also demonstrated one of the most challenging junctions in the northern quarter – the uphill right turn from Shudehill onto Thomas Street, which is extremely busy and requires you to negotiate tram tracks. That definitely helped build my confidence when using that junction and helped me to avoid making some unobvious mistakes.

There are also two further courses run by TfGM, which I’ve just signed up to: a bike maintenance course, (basic and advanced) and ride leader training. Although I’ve been doing bike maintenance for a few years now (and even converted my fixie) there are still some things I find a pain or just too daunting: gears, for example. The ride leader training will hopefully be useful in the cycling groups that I participate in, who are often looking for more experienced cyclists to lead social rides.

So if you’ve been looking out the window or thinking that this is a good time to get riding, don’t let your lack of confidence stop you. Sign-up to a course now – places are already filling up.

See the full list of courses and book your place.