Thursday, April 27, 2006


Learning to ride.

Yesterday I went down the park with my girlfriends six year old son Andrew, he's had a bike for a while but hadn't learnt to ride and I figured it would be a good day to learn. It's a cheap BMX type thing, single speed with back pedal brakes, no trainer wheels. We'd banned trainer wheels so he wouldn't become dependant on them, and besides, he could ride is scooter without any problems so his balance wasn't a problem. The park has a gentle slope, perfect for learning to ride a bike. My girlfriend took her bike along as well for a bit of inspiration, the park was only about 200 metres away so I walked.
I balanced him on his bike and pushed him along, sometimes he'd wobble a bit and fall off but we were only going slow so it didn't hurt. Eventually he went further and further, rolling about 50 metres to the bottom of the hill. We shouted at him to pedal but it was difficult for him to focus on steering and pedalling at the same time, so he'd forget to pedal. At the bottom of the hill he'd get off and push the bike to the top. He was loving it! He was gaining confidence too, he was learning to steer it to where he wanted to, and as the bike slowed down he'd remember to pedal, and get a bit of extra distance. next I showed him how to start, so I wouldn't have to hold him. I told him to put a foot on the pedal that was forward and push of with the other foot, like he does with his scooter. He soon got the hang of it and was independent. He could climb on his bike and ride it to the bottom. He was proud of himself and told any strangers that ventured nearby that this was the first time he'd ridden a bike. His mother and I were proud of him too. The grassy slope reminded me of the beach where the Wright brothers first flew a heavier than air craft. They must have felt the same , small hops followed by longer and longer hops, then controlled flight. What a feeling! We let him have a few more goes and then it was time for lunch, walking home Andrew decided he wanted to ride on the footpath, after a few false starts he got going down the path but turning onto the lawn he nearly hit the letter-box and came to an inglorious crash on the front lawn. Still, no harm done but a reminder that with more speed there's more risk. More rides to come.

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