The Chainlink

Okay, this may get deleted. And that's okay. But my life has hit a point where, if I don't try crazy, questionable things, I may never see the change I need.

This is me:

Relevant points:

I never learned to ride a bicycle. A Calvin-&-Hobbes-esque accident when I was a child made me scared to continue trying.

I've been working on bikes for years, although I've never had official training. Sears "taught" me back when Sears was still doing well (late 90s) by hiring me as the general assembly and repair guy (PMT), pointing at a rack full of returned bikes, handing me a BikeTools USA big book, and saying "do whatever you think you need to do to learn to build, tune and repair bikes. Make as many of those salable as possible and we'll write off the rest. Tell us if you need a tool."

I haven't worked on bikes in recent years. Back when I had a car, someone broke into it and stole all my tools while I was visiting my dad in East Chicago, IN. Given the area, there was no chance in hell of finding them or getting them back.

I spent my youth traveling. I was broke and homeless and spent about half the 90s just drifting around the USA, mostly the midwest, visiting people and trying to start a new life. So traveling isn't unfamiliar to me, although it's been a while.

I am disabled and extremely poor. I take care of myself, though... I have insurance and generally hold myself liable for any activity. Given my homeless past, I have some experience putting myself back together should an accident occur, and find it distasteful and tacky to look for blame in others for things I attempt.

What am I looking for?
I think learning to ride would change my life. I live in Avondale and doing so would vastly expand my casual chore and recreational range.

I have income that will follow me wherever I go. Honestly, I have little to keep me in one spot (the age of technology keeps me in touch with loved ones wherever I go), and so have been fiddling with the idea of low-budget traveling and blogging/vlogging about it. This has been on my mind over the last year or so, and doing it from a bicycle would be new and exciting for me, even if it's been done before.

I spent this past winter in a terrible place, emotionally. Ultimately, my decision is driven by the idea of doing something ridiculous, unexpected and great rather than join vast ranks of statistics and leave others sad.

So... I'm looking to learn to ride. Casually, at first, recreationally, perhaps competitively just a little (not to win, just to do), and, ultimately, to travel. To this end, I need not just a class, but a community... and that's why I'm here. I have very little to my name and am still somewhat skittish about bikes, which is why I haven't just grabbed one and tried to take off; as I write this I have... a helmet. Woo! But hey, it's more than I had.

This is ludicrous. I know. But my life has always about doing something completely off-the-wall and unexpected when things got bad, because, honestly, being challenged is better than being dead. I've always found that adversity builds strength, and I'd like to do something amazing out of desperation, even if it's only amazing to me. So, here I am, offering a plea to a community for a hobby, sport, and lifestyle that, until now, has always scared me.

If you can help, if this post doesn't get poofed, feel free to reply here, or to my CL ad, or... I'm not sure if my email is public here. If it is, feel free to use it. I'm open to discussion, questions, suggestions, I just need to get going and could always use advice or guidance from people who know.

Take care, and be excellent to each other!


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Good for you for asking for help. Anyone have any suggestions on how Juan can get started? 

I've known a couple of adults who've never ridden a bike as a youth.  When they started to learn when much older it took a lot of effort and time than other who've always ridden bikes would estimate.  Maybe riding a bike is like learning a language.  Trying to learn a new language when you're older is very difficult.

By all means, pursue your big plans.  Go for it! Just allow enough time to learn and acclimate.

Thanks. I really have no idea what I'm doing, yet. But I have time, an income that will follow me and I can patch myself up if I get hurt.

I'm actually still kind of scared to try... but if I can do this, it'll be a massive shift of paradigm, and that's what I need... big change. I don't mind taking it slow, it's getting started that's the big hurdle.

Try a Critical Mass ride. Usually the warmer months bring out larger crowds to ride in. Some people have told me it changed their life and way of thinking.

This month it's on the 29th of April.

There will be a lot of suggestions here of things that people feel comfortable doing themselves, and consequently a lot of community to take part in once you're up and running. Critical Mass is a thing a lot of people love. The Slow Roll Chicago rides are also a great way to take part in a supportive group ride that won't kill you. It's one of the best things I've seen for folks that are venturing out to ride for the first time. Please send me a private message and I can connect you with some other resources. You can email me at 

If you're entirely serious about this, first of all, learning how to ride a bike consists mostly of being able to maintain a sense of balance during motion. If you can balance your body while tightroaping a curb you're doing good. Then you can get on a bicycle (that is adjusted for your tall frame) and just try balancing while standing still by using countering movement of the handlebars in the direction you are leaning. I recommend a bicycle with its pedals removed where you sit and try to slowly learn how to balance during slow movement as someone helps propel you while pushing around the seat area or/and lower back. Depending on confidence and accomplishment it could happen rapidly or just take a little more time. It can be done.

Accomplishment of things that we feel we desire is fine. But I feel that your goal should first center on stabilizing your 'emotional place', then you could move on to accomplishing and learning other things that could change your life. Cycling could be beneficial in your situation or it just may not be a total end all solution to your problems.

Another thing I haven't mentioned is the type of bike you might need to use might be a mountain bike style. Some bike shops can be helpful to all types of new cyclists. And make sure you get a good U-lock. Good luck to you!

Balance is a minor issue, because of my condition. However, as with other areas (working with my trainer at the gym, much thanks to friends and family for helping me afford that), I suspect that it can largely be overcome with practice. I'm not looking to go offroading or anything drastic, just transportation and casual enjoyment. Cruising. I've never been good at rushing.

Cycling has always been that thing on the horizon, for me... I'll get to it someday, but don't have the time just now. But, now, I do. I'd really like to make this happen. Whether I just get some help, or if there's a class or official thing to do, I want to look into it. But I don't think I can get started alone, and that's the tricky part. That's why I'm asking for help. It's weird, I know, real off-the-wall approach, but I have a goal and only the vaguest clue how to approach it. Many others know, some are nice, and I'm too far down to be macho about it, time to ask.

League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors are trained to teach adults to ride.  Often they charge a fee, but perhaps someone in the area would be willing to work with you for a reduced fee or no fee.  You might try looking at the web site for the League to find local LCIs (as they are called.)

Also, I hope you took Charlie up on his offer.  He most likely can help.

Hey Juan, I've send you a friend request, accept it & I'll write about how to teach you in riding a bicycle . I'm an L.C.I. And teach people of all ages how to ride a bike . Ages range from 3- 67yrs old. My take on this is your never to old too learn something new anything! With that said, I'll have you up and riding. If you know a little bit about baseball, then you know a batter has a batting percentage . Okay, my percentage's 1000. At bat! Your saying to yourself WTF is he talking about, well translate that in easy terms means , Not one single person has not learned how to ride a bike with me! Yes I'm batting 1000 ! Yes I'm going continue to be perfect at batting. Why you say, well I'll tell you again you start with lessons with me. You may also contact me by phone. He's my info:
Tony Riccardo

Oops, replied before I saw this message!

Thanks! It might be a few days before I get going on this... my lower back is doing that ache that suggests I need to take it easy for a bit if I don't want to throw out my back entirely. The timing could be better, but it's nice to be moving on this stuff!

And thanks, Lisa! Any information is useful information... I had no idea this stuff even existed!

Sorry I didn't catch this thread earlier ...


Charlie can steer you towards some helpful contacts.  And Tony is a good instructor, experienced at teaching new riders, and can have you rolling on your own in short order.

On a general note, in each of the last 3 years, LCIs in Chicago have helped over 100 adults learn to ride a bike for the first time (100/year).  Lessons are in the form of one-on-one coaching rather than group classes, and take place sites that are mutually convenient for the new rider and the instructor.  The instructor can provide a bike for the lesson.

Classes offered by area LCIs are listed at  There is a link there to register for the Learn To Ride lessons.  Rates and class descriptions are listed also.

When someone registers for a  Learn To Ride lesson, they select from a number of sites, and the nearest available instructor serving that site will contact them.  The time between registering and being contacted by an instructor varies depending on number of pending requests. It ranges from 1 to 3 days right now. 

Hope that helps..



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