Learning to ride a bike is a big deal. The experience has a sort of monumental and mythical quality to it. It’s one of those classic experiences you’re supposed to remember forever, symbolizing a sense of independence and accomplishment. We can probably all envision the scene – a parent running behind a child and holding on to the bike while giving words of encouragement. And the glorious moment of letting go and watching the shaky rider continue to move forward. There’s probably a crash or two or three in the memory too but that’s neither here nor there and the final achievement is what matters the most, right?
We taught my 3 year old daughter to ride a bike this weekend. As you might expect biking is big in our family.
She rides with me on my long tail cargo bike to school, to the library and farmer’s markets, and on joy rides through the Arboretum. She watches her 6 year old brother jet around on his bike and for the last few months has talked excitedly about how this summer she will ride a “pedal bike”. She’s been riding a balance bike (bike with no pedals) since she was 18 months and this spring has been extra determined to ride it on family rides rather than hitch a ride with me on my big bike.
So we decided to give the pedal bike a try this past weekend and she eagerly strapped her helmet on and ran out the door to start practicing. Her visible excitement made my heart swell.
She’s got the balancing down so it was just a matter of coordinating the pedaling (and not inadvertently pedaling backward and braking!). There were a few spills but she’s one tough cookie and would pick herself up off the sidewalk while wiping her hands together and climb back on. Within a few minutes she was riding past a few houses all on her own and she was clearly exhilarated with her accomplishment. We’re still working on starting and stopping and smoothing out some wobbles but with her grit I have no doubt she’ll have it totally figured out in a few weeks. And let it be said I’m strongly in the camp of no training wheels ever when teaching kids to ride – let them master the balance and then add in the pedals. It’s amazing how quick that transition can happen.
Learning to ride a bike is a big step for a kid and I’m delighted she’s gained this new skill. Seeing the joy of riding through the fresh eyes of a 3 year old is awesome. I see a lot of ice cream rides in our future this summer.