A month or so ago I stumbled upon a blog post about kids learning to ride a bike without pedals or training wheels. The basic idea is that without having to worry about pedaling, they can focus first on getting the hang of balancing on two wheels first. They can just sit on the bike seat with their feet on the ground, move their feet and walk. They’ll eventually start coasting along, balancing with the security and knowledge that they can easily catch themselves if they start to tip. Once they have the balance thing down, it’s much easier to then get the hanging pedaling – instead of doing it the other way around like you do with training wheels.
Ava’s been riding a training wheeled bike since she was 4 or so. Now at the ripe old age of 6 she’s expressed an interest in taking her training wheels off – especially watching so many of her peers riding without them.
So if you rewind the tape of our life here to a few weeks ago, you’d see an attempt at Ava learning to ride her bike sans training wheels – at her request, mind you. Watch in slow motion as the realization spreads across her face that this is not going to be quite as easy as her fellow 5 and 6 year old friends were making it look. Fast forward through the small melt down that then ensued. Press play as you watch Zak put the training wheels put back on. Roll credits. The end.
But then I saw that blog post. And then training wheels in my head started turning. She needs a small bike where she can easily reach the ground to get the hang of balancing, and then she can worry about pedaling once she’s got the balancing part down pat.
Here’s a video from Strider Sports that explains it all nicely. No, I am not selling these bikes. No, I don’t make any money if you buy one. I sure as hell didn’t buy one. This video just saves me from having to type it all out. Wait, I think I already did type it all out.
So… a small bike, a small bike… what we need is a (free!) small bike. Well ask and you shall receive! Last week at a girlfriend’s house I spotted a small two wheeled bike in their shed. Turns out they weren’t currently using it for their young daughters so I snagged it to give this small bike idea a whirl.
Ava, who is not in the least bit afraid to be disagreeable, was willing to give this idea a whirl too.
Here she is on Sunday.
And within about a half an hour or so she was off and riding!
I didn’t have to run behind her holding the seat. I didn’t have to let go and yell “yeah, I’m still holding the seat!” only to have her look over her shoulder and see that wasn’t in fact holding the seat. She didn’t have realize she was doing it by herself, promptly lose her balance and come crashing to the ground. She didn’t refuse to ever try again and then give me the cold shoulder for the rest of the night like you might see in some smarmy TV show from the 90’s starring Dave Coulier and the Olsen twins.
Nope. None of that. Instead I sat on my ass on the porch steps with my camera and watched as she figured it out on her own.
And now she’s an old pro!
We haven’t taken the training wheels off her big bike yet as the meltdown alarms for the nuclear kid reactors start to sound at the mere suggestion of it. Soon enough, I’m sure.
The moral of today’s story is: got small kids? Buy a balance bike. Or don’t. Better yet, save some money and find a small bike on the side of the road or in your friend’s shed. Maybe take the pedals off if you’re mechanically inclined. Either way, I highly recommend doing what it takes so you don’t have to live out a scene from Full House.