Claire has been learning to ride a bike for about 4 years now. Or at least, we have been trying to get her to ride for that long, and she reluctantly tries for a while until we run out of time or she outgrows her bike. We have asked various nannies to give it a try over the summers, with no luck. We’re making one more push this summer on Claire’s bike #3.
So on Sunday morning, we hit the track at the local middle school where everyone around here goes to learn to ride a bike. I had gotten Claire a new (used) bike that actually fits her current size, and she was at least willing to give it a spin. No training wheels any more for Claire; they just don’t make them for her size bike.
It turns out that riding a bike and teaching someone to ride a bike are very different skills, and you don’t automatically know how to teach someone to ride a bike when you become a dad. Strange, right? I figured we’d just go for a modest victory, at least some small progress. So I ran along with Claire and held her bike steady by the seat as she peddled along the flat sidewalk. I told to peddle faster since it’s easier to balance that way. We got up to a good speed, and then I let go for a couple of seconds without telling her. Then I caught on to her seat again before she had crashed and told her she had done it: she had balanced on her own for two seconds! Claire was very proud. We did it again, and she asked me not to tell her when I was letting go so she didn’t get nervous. She did three seconds this time before she started to wobble, and I caught her seat again. The last thing we needed right now was a bloody knee or broken arm, so we called it good there for now.
Meanwhile, poor Molly was trying out her inherited little bike with the training wheels. She asked us not to tell anyone that her bike had training wheels so they would still think she was cool. I don’t think the two joggers and one dog walker nearby thought any less of her for her training wheels, but we did not mention it to them to honor Molly’s wishes.
While I was running with Claire, Molly managed to crash her bike on the grass. But she was unscathed, slightly amused, and ready to keep going. I had her pose for a picture (above). Then Molly got to ride around the 1/4 mile jogging track once with her little bike. Molly enjoyed riding her bike more than Claire did. With her attitude, she might learn to ride on her own before her older sister. A little sibling rivalry might spark Claire’s interest in biking?
But Claire is making progress with her three seconds of self-powered riding and should be proud for just getting out there and trying it.