Mounting and dismounting should be one of the first things you learn when you start riding a bike, after all you actually have to get on your bike to ride and at some point, and however inelegantly you will get off at some point. But there are a few techniques to build these skills, and some quite important points that make sure you do this as safely as possible.
Starting with mounting. Despite what some people will tell you, you do need to know how to mount correctly from both sides. Anyone who says you only need to learn how to mount with your bike on your right side, due to keeping yourself on the other side to the traffic, needs to go ride on the continent. So practise both sides.
To start with keep both hands on the handlebars covering the brakes. Then swing your leg over the back of the bike, coming over the saddle, so you are now standing astride the top tube. You should have already got the pedals into position but the one on the opposite side you started from should be in line with the down tube – to clarify; if you mount with the bike on your right side the right pedal should be aligned with the down tube. Then in one smooth motion press down on the pedal and lift your bum onto the seat. Following that you need to engage the left pedal with your left foot. And you’re off…
A couple of things to remember to make it easier. You should maintain your line of sight to where you are going, looking down at what you are doing with your feet can lead you to push off in an odd direction, plus you can’t see what’s coming ahead if your head and eyes are down. If you are mounting in the road you will also need to check over your shoulder to check there isn’t anything about to run you over. Once you can do this in bits, put it all together and aim to do this quicker.
Now dismounting. Again as with mounting you will need to learn how to dismount from both sides. In reality it is almost an exact reverse of the techniques used to mount. As you are approaching your stopping point you need to check it is safe to do so, so before you apply the brakes look over your shoulder to check for traffic, if clear apply the brakes, if in a group you may need to signal this by extending your arm and waving it up and down. Once it is safe and those around you know you are doing so you can stop.
If you are using clip-less pedals you will need to disengage one foot before stopping, or queue the awkward fall that precedes a lot of pointing and laughing. Even if you aren’t attached to the pedals you will need to remove one foot from the pedal in order to put it down upon stopping. As you go to put your foot down on the ground lift your bum off the saddle. Then disengage the other foot and stand astride the top tube. All that is left is to swing your leg back over the bike so you are now standing aside your bike.
A few more points to remember. Communication is key, traffic and other riders may not be able to tell you are stopping, letting them know is the only way you can be sure they understand what is happening in front of them. As with mounting once you have mastered the techniques individually you can put them together and get faster at doing so.
Safety is the primary reason you should know how to mount and dismount correctly but there are other practical uses, for example cyclo-cross races where mounting and dismounting quickly is key to going quick. Plenty of reason to get out and practise getting on and off your bike.