Learn 2 Ride FAQs

Have questions? We've got answers!

Q:  Who are Learn to Ride lessons for?

A:  The majority of our students have never ridden a bike before and are learning to ride for the first time. Many of our students already know how to ride and are just looking to add or refine specific skills such as using gears, turning, or executing more efficient starts or stops. Make sure your instructor knows your experience and goals before you start, so that they can design a program best suited to you.

Q:  Am I too old to learn?

A:  You are never too old to learn to ride a bike. We have had many students in their mid- and late-seventies learn to ride for the first time.  If you are willing to try, we are delighted to help you.

Q:  Am I too young to learn?

A:  Our lessons work really well with students eight-years-old and older.  Similar techniques can work well with students younger than eight, but typically their attention spans and lack of experience with formal schooling make an hour-long lesson impractical.  We will work with students younger than eight on a case-by-case basis.

A parent who wants to get their younger child started sooner, should review our tips for learning to ride.  You can use these same techniques with children as young as two years-old, typically starting with a runner/pedalless/scoot bike.  Plan a number of short practice sessions.

Q:  When should my child learn to bike?

A:  Increasingly children as young as three and four are learning to bike on their own on two wheels.  The largest number of children still learn to ride for the first time between the ages of six and eight.  Ideally, you should help your child learn to bike before they turn nine, but it is never too late.

Q:  My sense of balance is terrible.  Can I still learn to bike?

A:  Most people who self-assess bad balance just need to practice.  However, once in a great while, we’ll encounter a student with a legitimate balance issue.  If you think this might be you, it is best to consult a physician to determine if bicycling is best for you.

Q:  I have physical or cognitive disabilities which might make bicycling more challenging for me.  Is bicycling right for me?

A:  We might be able to recommend adaptive equipment or other organizations which are best suited to your needs.

Q:  Are these group lessons or one-on-one?

A:  One-on-one.

Q:  My friend/partner/children also want to learn to ride?  Can we schedule a group lesson?

A:  Yes, but we don’t recommend it.  It is difficult enough for students to focus on what they need to do to improve without worrying about what someone else is doing.  Not only is sharing a lesson potentially distracting to the student, it also means the instructor’s attention will be divided between the students.  In most cases, the lessons work best one-on-one.  There are exceptions to this as some students are especially supportive of each other and/or will learn best from watching someone else contend with the same challenges.  You know yourself/your friend/partner/children best.  If you think your group is the exception, we’ll facilitate that group lesson.

Q:  Can I bring my friend/partner/child to watch my lesson?

A:  Absolutely.  As long as they aren’t going to distract you from the work you need to do, they are welcome to watch.

Q:  Can I drop off my child for a lesson and come back when it is over?

A:  No.  Children work best when their parents/guardians are there to support them.  Most children want you to be there to witness their successes.  There is also a good chance that your child will finish the lesson and need to continue practicing at home.  If you are there, you’ll have a better understanding of the kind of practice they need to do and how to facilitate it.  In the rare case where you’ll be a distraction to your child, you can watch from a distance.   

Q:  How long are the lessons?

A:  Lessons run about an hour.  After about 45 minutes, most students are getting physically and mentally tired. If things are going especially well and/or the student is close to a breakthrough, the lesson may go for the full 60 minutes.

Q:  How many lessons will I need?

A:  Everyone learns at their own pace.  As long as you keep working and challenge yourself, you’ll get there.  It takes a typical student between one and four one-hour lessons to get up and riding.  At that point, many students will feel confident expanding and exploring their skills on their own, others will schedule additional one-on-one lessons with one of our instructors, and others will be ready to join one of our small group classes oriented towards new and returning riders.

Q:  My schedule is really tight.  Can I schedule two or more lessons back-to-back on the same day?

A:  We recommend against this.  The lessons are an hour long for a reason as there comes a point of diminishing returns when your brain and your body need some down-time to process what you are learning.  Give yourself at least a night of sleep between lessons.

Q:  How far in advance do I need to contact you about scheduling?

A:  If you want a reasonable chance at a specific time which fits your schedule, contact us about scheduling at least two weeks out.  

Q:  When and where are the lessons given? 

A:  Lesson are scheduled at Magnuson Park in Seattle.  Dates are listed on the primary Learn to Ride page.

Q:  What happens if it rains during my lesson or if it looks like it will rain during my lesson?

A:  Please dress for the weather and plan to ride with the rain. That might mean rain gear and/or having a towel and a change of clothes for after the lesson.  In the unusual case where the weather threatens safety, we’ll cancel the lesson and reschedule.  When in doubt, contact your instructor.  And please make sure your instructor has a good phone number to reach you the day of the lesson in case they need to contact you.

Q:  Do I need a bike?  Do I need a helmet?

A:  You do need both a bike and a CPSC-approved helmet for our lessons.  We have loaners available for most sized bodies and most sized heads.  If you are planning on borrowing our equipment, please let us know how tall you are when you schedule your lesson, so that we can make sure we have the right equipment ready for you.

If you already have a bike that you like and it is easy for you to transport, you should bring that bike.  It is best to spend time getting familiar with the equipment you’ll be using most.

Q:  I don’t have a bike.  But I know I want to get one.  Should I buy that before I take lessons?

A:  Probably not.  When you are learning, it is helpful to have a bike at home to practice with, but an important part of buying a bike is test-riding it to make sure it fits your body and that you enjoy riding it.  After the first lesson, the instructor will be able to give you a better assessment of how much effort you will need to get up and riding.  It might make sense to think about bike shopping after that assessment. 

Q: Do I need wrist, elbow, knee pads?

A:  Wrist, elbow, knee pads limit movement and are more distracting to a new rider than their protection is worth.  Of course, there is a small risk of falling and injuring yourself when biking, but serious injuries are extremely rare. 

Q:  How should I dress for the lesson?

A:  Please wear clothes appropriate for mild athletic activity and dress for the weather.  Layers are a great idea.  We do not recommend wearing jeans or open-toed shoes.

Q:  What else should I bring to the lesson?

A:  Bring your bike and helmet if you have one.  Please make sure your bike is in good working order.  If your bike has training wheels, please remove them or have them removed before the first lesson.  Water and sunscreen are also recommended.

Q:  How much do lessons cost?

A:  $70 per lesson for Cascade Bicycle Club members; $75 for non-members.  

Q:  $70-$75 per lesson is too expensive for me.  Can I still learn?

A:  Yes!  Cascade is a non-profit with a mission of “bicycling for all”.  If cost is an issue for you, please let us know, as we have scholarships available!  We reference King County area median income tables to determine scholarship amounts.  If a scholarship is offered, our instructor will send you the appropriate registration link.

Q:  When is payment due?

A:  Seven days prior to the lesson.  Payment secures your appointment.

Q:  What if I need to cancel?

A:  If you realize there is a problem with making a scheduled lesson, please contact your instructor as soon as possible.  Cancellations made at least seven days prior to a scheduled lesson will receive a full refund minus a $5 processing fee. Cancellations made less than seven days prior will be non-refundable. 

Q:  What if I need to reschedule?

A: Contact instructor@cascade.org. They will instruct you to refund you current lesson (for which you will receive a full refund minus a $5 processing fee) and then you can register for a lesson on your new preferred date. 

Q:  I know I’m going to need at least four lessons.  Should I pay for them all now?

A:  Most students underestimate their own ability, but you may book extra lessons in advance. If it turns out that you do not need those lessons you can refund them for a $5 processing charge as long as it is still one week before the lesson date. 

Another option is that you can use the fee that you paid for this unused lesson to go towards a Basic Cycling Techniques class. This is what we recommend as it is a natural progression for students who have recently learned to ride. 

Q:  How do I schedule a lesson?

A:  Register for your preferred lesson date. After registering our lead instructor will contact you with available lesson times and schedule your lesson.