Learning to Ride

My little girl hit a new milestone today by learning to ride her bike!

Getting here, I can honestly attest, has been a very bumpy ride (pun intended), but alas she prevailed!

Let me start with a little bit of context. Every child is different. I put my son on a bike at about five years of age and he was riding his bike in, literally, a matter of minutes. He only needed a small bit of guidance and he took care of the rest himself. My daughter, on the other hand, is a completely different story. She is currently eight years old. We bought her first bike about three years ago and she rode it for a long time with training wheels. About 18 months ago I took the training wheels off and I spent many hours running with her up and down the street, but she was never able to grasp the whole balance thing. As she continued to grow we got her a bigger bike and spent many additional hours practicing , but again, she just couldn’t manage to keep her balance. Finally in a moment of frustration I searched the Internet for alternative learning methods and ran across a video that demonstrated the “Balance Bike” method.

The idea behind this method is really simple. All you do is remove the pedals and then let your child push themselves and then lift their feet until they get a firm grasp of the balance required to keep the bike upright. What’s great about this technique is that the child stays in control and isn’t hindered by a parent holding their shoulders or the bicycle’s handle bars, and what’s even better is that the parent doesn’t end up with an aching back.

After seeing the video I took the pedals off and let her try to push herself along a few times but she kept hitting the crankarms with her chins and she was ready to quit within a few minutes of starting. I did a bit more research and found that were are a number of bicycles on the market specifically made to teach balance. The only thing that was different about them was that they didn’t have pedal cranks. It seemed silly to me to spend money to buy one of these when I could achieve the same thing for free. Using the examples I saw on the internet as inspiration, I then proceeded to remove the crank assembly, chain and chain guard from my daughters bike and we spent a few minutes on three or four occasions over the next few weeks practicing totaling 30 to 40 minutes.

Today my daughter decided she was ready to try riding “with the pedals” again so I put everything back together, she loaded up and on her first try she was riding her bike down the street without any help!

So the moral of this story is give the “Balance Bike” method a try if your youngster is having difficulty learning to ride and chances are they will acquire the necessary skills in no time!

~GT~

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