Meet our instructors: Lisa

February 19, 2019

How did you get involved in cycling for transportation?

When I was in university, I decided to see if riding my bike would be faster than taking the bus home from my part-time job. It was, plus I started to realize that I wasn’t just saving time and bus fare, but I felt better having that exercise before and after work. I moved around a bit over the next few years, but nearly always found that biking was the fastest and easiest way to get there, so I used it more and more often.

How long have you been teaching transportation cycling courses with HUB Cycling? Which courses do you most commonly teach?

It’s been about two and a half years now. In the spring and fall I teach a lot of Ride the Road courses in schools for 10-12-year-old kids. In the summer I teach a lot of programs for families, including newcomers to Canada.

What does a typical day look like during the instructional season?

For the newcomer programs, I will typically meet up with a coworker & drive a MODO truck to our bike storage, where we’ll load the truck with bikes, helmets and equipment. We’ll drive to another city like Coquitlam or North Vancouver or Surrey and unload all the gear, then figure out how to best use the community centre parking lot, public plaza, or ball hockey court we have for the on-bike skills. Once all the students arrive we do introductions & get started on a little theory, then move into on-bike skills. The language skills and cycling abilities vary hugely in these groups--sometimes we start with how to hold a bike while getting on it, sometimes we have students who want advice for using clipless pedals on their road bike for their next bike tour. It’s fantastic to work with people who have taken the leap to move to another country, learn a whole other language, and also--sometimes not that long after they arrive--learn to ride a bike as an adult.

Once the program is over, we load all the bikes and gear, and hop in the truck, where my coworkers and I always get into some great conversations. Once we’ve unloaded the gear back at the storage, then we return the MODO truck and bike home. Teaching these programs is both mentally and physically engaging, which I love.

What skills make a good cycling instructor?

A cycling instructor needs to be friendly, patient, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and empathetic.

What are some challenges you’ve faced as an instructor? Successes?

Communicating with students can be a challenge, especially when their English skills are rudimentary, they experience learning differences like autism, or I’m teaching in a stuffy classroom full of tired children at the end of the day. I look at every student as an individual, do my best to come to where they’re at, and follow their cues to decide what success looks like for them. I feel I’ve succeeded when I see them improving and enjoying themselves. When someone starts to ride for the first time the smile of utter joy on their face is contagious!

What other activities, work, or schooling do you do?

I have two kids who are both in school now, so when I’m not working I bike them to and from school, as well as to their various activities. When I’ve got spare time I sew and listen to audiobooks.

Are you involved in the cycling community more broadly in Vancouver? I.e. community bike shops, recreational cycling community, cycle touring, cycling advocacy?

Our family doesn’t own a car, so at least 90% of our trips are by bike. We use MODO for the occasional trip and I write about how carsharing & family biking work for us on my blog, Spokesmama.com. We haven’t done any long tours yet, but we go on a few bike camping trips every summer. I’m the main organizer for Vancouver Family Biking, which has an active Facebook group, does the occasional group ride, and workshops for how to start riding with children. I’m also a member of the City of Vancouver’s Active Transportation Policy Council.

This is part 4 of a 5 part series featuring cycling instructors on our Bike Education Team. We’re hiring Bike Instructors for our spring season, for more info check out the job posting here.