Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan McLucas.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Susan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I taught a few friends to ride a bike 35 years ago and enjoyed it. Eventually I taught more people, first one by one, then with adult education schools. A student offered to make me a website a few years back, and that’s when things started to really get going. Now people come from all over the country and sometimes beyond to learn how to ride. I’ve taught about 3,000 by now, maybe more. I have 3 people working with me because there aren’t enough hours in the day to teach all the people who want to learn to ride, kids, adults, lots of people from different countries. I’ve taught a woman with only one leg and one time a student flew in from Brazil to learn to ride here.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I didn’t realize I was on a path of doing this for a long time. It was just a pleasant side line. But it grew bigger and bigger until now, instead of fixing bicycles, I have a bike mechanic working for me.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Bicycle Riding School story. Tell us more about the business.
We are known as a fun place where you can learn how to ride. We try to do everything we can to dispel people’s fears and make it a memorable and entertaining experience. We attach a basket with ET in it to any bike when a person wants that. We tie kids’ stuffed animals on the handle bars, when they are afraid or when the animal friend just wants a ride. We use a harness to give a kid a feeling of safety, when it seems too scary to get their feet off the ground otherwise. We join kids (and sometimes grown-ups) in imaginative fantasy talk to make the process of wobbling around a playground more entertaining. One student requested that I talk like a chipmunk and I did my best. One student, who’d been struggling to get her balance, asked me to sing the Rocky theme song when she finally did, which I had to learn, but I did. We give out diplomas to mark people’s accomplishment.
We have a virtually perfect success rate. I believe there have been about 6 people in the history of the school who have not learned. It might be 10 by now. That’s about 1 in 500 who don’t learn to ride. I wish they had!
We do whatever we can to make sure everyone learns to ride. We pad the pedals; many of the handlebars are padded as well. We start out by removing the pedals and we have crank pads that we put on the cranks, so that people can’t hurt themselves knocking against the hard cranks. We put people in knee and elbow pads and gloves as well as helmets, of course. These make our students feel very safe.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I live near a big, paved schoolyard where I taught for 30 years. Unfortunately, now it is not available anymore, but we are finding spaces. I may have to move, but I hope not. I am still resting from my last move about 30 years ago. It was very lucky that I lived within walking distance of that great, perfectly sloping wide paved playground for all those years. What the future holds is less clear.
- A group lesson is between $30 and $10 for an hour and a half.
- A private lesson is between $60 and $25 for an hour and a half.
- Address: 14 William Street
Somerville, MA 02144
- Website: BicycleRidingSchool.org
- Phone: 617-776-6524
- Email: SusanBMcL@gmail.com