On September 1st, my daughter learned to ride her pedal bike ( as she calls it). Naturally, as parents, we are incredibly proud. She will be 4 in October. This seems quite early to me and had I not seen other 3-year-olds riding two wheelers confidently, I would not have imagined it possible.
We WERE aiming for an early start. Once we learned about the Skuut balance bike and saw a 2-year-old in action on one, the plan was in motion. We would start her on a balance bike and bypass training wheels. In case you are unfamiliar, the balance bike is wooden and has no pedals. The movement is Flintstone style. Once a kid gets the hang of it, they can push-off, lift their feet and glide down small inclines. Or go flying down big hills – mountain biking style – if their father happens to be my husband.
I am another story, I didn’t learn until I was 10 years old. And based on that sentence alone, you can probably tell I felt that I was “over-the-hill”. From my perspective as a kid, EVERYONE else had learned how to ride a bike without training wheels WAY before I had.
Perhaps, it was because I was a generally fearful kid who hated being embarrassed and was reluctant to ask for help. Or maybe it was my love affair with riding my Big Wheel. Much to the chagrin of those adults who might have had a little too much fun on Friday nights, my friends and I would ride the network of concrete sidewalks in Fairlington early on Saturday mornings. We would get out our plastic low-riding machines and make those hollow plastic wheels rip up a gravely sound as we raced each other. It was the coolest and I did not readily give up the experience. When my knees started hitting my elbows as I rode, I should have probably taken the hint that it was time to move on.
But NO, I had to wait for an awkward and embarrassing situation to get a clue. It was the day that Clayton traded up to a bike with a banana seat and when he offered to let me try it, I looked up from the comfortable plastic seat of my Big Wheel and said, ” No, I am okay. Oh, I know how to ride a bike, I just don’t feel like it.” Yeah, that taste of humble pie was my motivation.
It was an eight year old boy named Ralph Ford who taught me to ride a bike. I have NO idea why Ralph took it upon himself to teach me to ride a bicycle. Maybe I begged him to teach me. I do remember that he was patient and kind and effective. I am forever grateful to him. After all, a great many wonderful adventures followed for me because I learned to ride a bike.
So, I am curious. How old were you when you learned to ride a bicycle?