Teaching my kid how to ride a bike

I still remember the day my dad put me on the purple bike with the flowerprint banana seat, got me peddling and then let me go.

I still remember crashing into the fence, hitting the ground and looking at him, wailing “Why did you let gooooooooo??????!?!?!?”

But I got up, tried it again and the second time was a charm. I never looked back. That bike was my freedom, my chariot to roam the neighbourhood until the streetlights came on.

So I thought it would be easy – no problem at all – to teach my kids how to ride a bike.

Please, please, hold back your laughter, I now know how foolish that sounds. Never use the word easy when describing teaching a child how to ride a bike.

After countless, breathless efforts of me running down the sidewalk holding his seat, of trying to keep up with him and keep him from steering us both into a fence (No thanks, been there and done that!) I returned to the drawing board. I borrowed a friend’s “Balance Buddy“. It’s a handle that fits on the back, making it easier to control the kid’s bike.

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

So it’s been 2 years of trying to teach my son how to ride a bike. I think two years is long enough for me to admit defeat. I was, in fact, admitting defeat to a friend when she mentioned a local bike program that everyone swears by.

Forget the $29.99 for a Balance Buddy, the $35 it cost for the Learn-to-Ride program at Bike Works has proven to be the best money I ever spent.

These pros are true bike enthusiasts. They see and understand your child’s movements and know how to adjust and motivate them – how to correct what they’re doing wrong, and how to improve on what they’re doing right.

It was a HUGE improvement over me running alongside of my son, panting and yelling.

I learned three things from these lessons:

A) A balance bike – They took the pedals off of the kids’ bikes and had them do a number of exercises just pushing themselves around by foot. It got them balancing and coasting. It gave them confidence.

B) A tune up – We’d bought what we thought was a good bike from a good bike shop, but it had some issues and those issues were making it hard to learn. We didn’t realize it, and the shop was careless in their tuning. A good bike mechanic is key. The Bike Works team noticed the issues – which were half the battle.

C) Confidence. The balance bike taught the balance part, and putting the peddling part together with balance was easier. Especially with the praise of strangers.

I think my son had, by year two, resolved to the fact that he was never going to get it, and no matter how much running up and down the street I did with him, it was never going to work out. But having someone who *loves* cycling and worked one-on-one with him was more motivating and worked better with his needs.

At first I was a bit bummed that I had failed. I couldn’t teach him. Then I realized, he’s riding. I’m not yelling, running or panting. So what if I didn’t teach him, I found the right teacher for him.

I’m calling it a parenting win!

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