I taught both my stepsons how to ride a bike and honestly, I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. But like most things with both of them I try to approach it as logically as possible and bring it down to a level they can understand. That, dear reader, is no easy endeavor… being logical and trying to be understandable to a kid who is six or seven years old.
My older stepson was the first I tried to teach. It was last year a few months after he’d turned seven. And I did what I thought was the logical thing to do. I started pushing him down the street holding on to the handlebars and seat. Back and forth up and down the street. Then I had him go with his feet off the pedals, training wheels still on (but I had bent them so they couldn’t touch if the bike leaned over a little) and I would let him teeter a little as I held the back of his bike seat. He got a little freaked out so we stopped that. Instead I had him sit on his bike on a flat part of the street and lift his legs up and told him to wiggle his butt to keep himself upright. When he started to figure out how to do that I said, “that’s the balance. That’s the top of the bike where you want to be. When you feel yourself leaning to one side just shift your butt cheek to bring you back.”
I don’t think he quite got it. He was still kinda freaked out and so the lesson ended.
Fast forward a couple of months.
It helps a lot when the kid has a desire to learn how. After a couple of months of just kinda letting it be and trying to put a bug in his ear about it he relented. Of course him finding out his best friend (who happens to be a girl) knew how to ride a bike without training wheels… well, I guess that was enough to make him think, “I gotta give this another try.”
So he let his mom pick up where he and I had started, which was “to feel the balance.” His grandmother, my mother inlaw, came by a week or so later and tried to help in the endeavor. Well a couple of weeks after trying to pick this up again I came home from work one day they were pretty excited at the progress that had been made. He had been able to pedal a few times on his own but that was about it.
That weekend he and I started again and we started by having him simply sit on the bike, lift his feet and feel the balance. This lasted… ugh, I don’t know, 10? 15 minutes? A lonnnnng time in the mind of a seven year old. Hell, it was long in my mind. He was getting antsy so I started pushing him and ultimately letting go of the seat a little. I’d grab hold again, turn around and do it again and again and again. The whole time I was reminding him to “feel the balance.” Like some sort of bike teaching sensei i kept repeating it over and over. And he would repeat it. Back and forth, up and down the street. Feel the balance.
Then… it happened!
Independence! Freedom! Mobility! That’s what riding a bicycle gives you.
That’s what you get when you can ride a bike.
That’s why I love riding bicycles and I am quite proud I taught this kid to ride a bike.