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It is a rite of passage for youngsters to learn to ride a bicycle for the first time, opening up the great outdoors to them.
This is especially true in Florida where people can ride bicycles all year. But there are children and adults who have encountered difficulties learning how to ride a bike or never had the opportunity.
For those who missed out on the opportunity in the past or for the youngsters who want to learn a safe and expedient way, there is a solution. The staff at Ask Learn Go works with people to overcome obstacles when learning how to ride a bike.
Lack of opportunity, fear, balance issues, bilateral coordination skills, vision issues and nerves for both the parents and the children can stand in the way.
Plantation-based Ask Learn Go’s success is based on the expertise and knowledge of teachers and therapists. The organization was founded by licensed occupational therapist Alex Minevich, who is with Broward County Public Schools, and Kathy Berman, a second-grade teacher at Parkland Elementary School.
Minevich is an avid motorcycle rider who combines his skills as an occupational therapist to teach his students how to ride a bike.
“You would be surprised how many people in Florida don’t know how to swim or ride a bike,” he said. “It is a staggering number. We avoid the skinned knees and physical and mental trauma that children often experience. Also, I would say 40% of our clients are adults and that includes an FBI agent, a police officer and a professional football player. Our oldest person we taught to ride is an 83-year-old man.”
During the COVID-19 lockdown, many people turned to cycling as an alternative workout regimen. The popularity of bike shops flourished and there were backorders for bicycles that extended for months.
“During COVID our phone rang non-stop,” Minevich said. “Everybody figured out that they couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing all day so one of the best forms of exercise was on a bike. Our business went through the roof. Bikes were sold out for months everywhere. Our vision is to make Ask Learn Go available to everyone. Every student has different skills and requires different amounts of time to learn to ride a bicycle.”
The Ask Learn Go strategy was to create a national program with major retail bike suppliers in which everyone who purchases a bike learns to ride. Lessons have been taught at Jewish Community Centers, Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat events, retail stores, youth events and parks and recreation departments for various cities.
The organization has partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation to encourage everyone to use a bicycle helmet and to learn and obey the rules of the road.
“There are many children from the urban areas who have never been taught how to ride a bicycle,” Minevich said. “We have been able to help so many kids learn how to ride during some of the charity events we have been asked to help out at. That is the best part of what we do. When a person learns to ride and feels the wind in their hair, they feel the joy of riding. It’s an awesome feeling. We want to become the largest resource for first-time bike riders.”
Ask Learn Go has occupational and physical therapists who are trained to recognize what physical problems a person may be experiencing.
“Literally, we can figure out within minutes what problems a person is having and can make corrective measures to help them ride a bike,” he said. “We know how to improve the balance, improve reflex response and teach some cool tricks that really work. We are always running with the rider and are in amazing shape. In our profession as therapists, we are working with patients who are coming off an injury and need that professional guidance. With our training, we apply that expertise to cyclists. What we do improves the quality of people’s lives.”
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Boynton Beach resident Sharilesch Doshi is one of the adults who successfully learned to ride a bike.
“I grew up in the city and never learned to ride a bike as a child and they [Ask Learn Go] made me very comfortable where I can now ride a bicycle,” Doshi said. “Alex [Minevich] is a very good teacher who took his time to work with me and I’m very grateful to him. I’m in my 70s and when you get older you have that fear that needs to be overcome. Now, I get to ride a bike alongside my wife who was a big help.”
Videos and virtual lessons are available as learning tools and group and private lessons are offered. Loaner bikes can be provided and bikes can be adjusted properly for every rider. Bicycle handles are used to support and control a new rider. Fear is removed by focusing on gliding and walking a bike and not riding. Ask Learn Go services are offered in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Tampa.