11 months ago
Where to start? I had been coveting a Halfbike for quite a while, when the 3 was offered. I made the commitment within days of the offering. Having read about it and having watched many videos, I understood there would be a significant learning curve – it has been 57 years since I learned to ride a bike, and this would be unlearning those reflexes (or putting them aside) to make room for new pathways in my brain.
I had it shipped to my office, to prevent it being stolen off my porch and to have help building it (lots of young cycling enthusiasts and engineers in the office). It arrived, and with help (shout out to Austin in particular!!!), it was assembled.
I have been practicing, first getting balance, riding a straight path, mild turns, big figure 8s, and now tightening those. While I am in decent shape, lots of recent, personal demands (and aging in general) have impinged upon my exercise routines and diminished my stamina. So - this also required building that up.
Riding the Halfbike is exhilarating… on so many levels: when you get some balance and can safely generate enough speed to coast a bit, standing straight-legged, one foot forward, one in back, wind in hair – it feels like it did when I was little, learning to ride a bike. With some scabbed knees to boot (though those came later, learning to do tighter turns).
Focusing on one thing at a time (that’s work in itself, intentionally disengaging muscle memory and habits), and then moving on to another, as you improve, I found rereading and reviewing videos, provided riding tips I was then able to employ. Relaxing your grip is intentional until, with practice, it becomes habitual.
And because you lose momentum quite quickly when you are gliding, you don’t get to ‘rest’ much; so that requires muscle engagement almost continually. And that’s an adjustment made with practice as well. To build up the desired endurance, along with the skills, I have begun to increase the times of sustained riding (NO stopping), bit by bit … 15 minutes no stopping, 17 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. This required finding a space to practice where I wouldn’t be distracted or disturbed much. A large, almost empty parking lot, with many tree islands, has been ideal in addition to riding in parks with paved paths and quieter roadways.
I have been riding about 5 weeks, usually on the weekends and once or twice during the week. I have fallen twice. I can really feel it when my body is tired; I definitely get sloppy then and revert to habits that do not work on the Halfbike. So stopping after 20 sustained minutes of riding for a break of just a few minutes makes a huge difference. That allows some processing time and hopping back on, I can see the improvement.
I think the way this demands learning, developing the pathways for balance and skill, the physicality of creating new muscle memory, is incredibly stimulating for your brain. At 61, I think the benefits of making this commitment are innumerable and I already feel like I want to continually find new activities that require this type of learning curve… to keep mind and body flexible. Love it!!! A commitment to time and patience, well worth it.
I suggest gloves of some sort and sacrificial clothing and/or safety equipment for learning. (Admittedly, I am no graceful athlete, so you may not need these items.)