We love to bike. We prefer to stay on multi-use paths, but, clearly, these get busy and there are a lot of things to navigate and manage. Dev did not learn to ride over night, but it has been worth all the effort! Here’s her bike story:
First time on a tricycle with a push pole: around age 2 1/2. Dev walked really early around 14 months, but the reciprocal movement of pedaling is so different; we did a lot more pushing than she did pedaling. We tried attaching her feet to the pedals and all kids of stuff.
First time on a bike with training wheels was around 3 1/2 years… What a rock star! We could still walk faster than she would ride, but “Wow”. We did not know things would not change for a while…
Training wheels with increasing size and stature, trailing bikes and tandems from age 5 till age 11ish. It is amazing when we look back at it. So many hours spent, so much money spent! Bikes, several types/styles of training wheels. The last ones were even called “Fat Wheels”. They look like mountain bike tires and they fit on bigger bike frames. But for real family rides, we needed more control and speed for the family to go places together, so we also had trailer bikes and finally a tandem. For one summer I remember being on the front of the tandem, Dev in the second set, and Ian on the trailer attached to the tandem…it worked well going down hill, but a lot of work on the way back up! I wish I had a picture! Then we heard about the “Lose the Training Wheels” program: http://www.losethetrainingwheels.org/
What a great program. Dev was riding with out training wheels by the end of week. It was amazing. We still put in many hours of practice. The amount of multi-tasking that goes into riding well is amazing. Balance, speed, steering all at once. Then you add in environment, bumps on the pavement, hill, people, cars… It is not easy and it takes a long time. Here is the video of her riding today–age 15.
After the Lose the Training Wheels program we practiced and practiced in parking lots, on family rides, every where we could. She rode her bike to school with friends a few times at the beginning of 6th grade! She was 12. The girls figured out that the moms would also drive a car pool and opted for that most days , but what a gift to ride with typical peers! She rode to the neighborhood pool with her friends and sibs. We rent bikes at the beach; we take bikes with us on rode trip vacation. She still likes to follow a leader, her brother (6yrs her junior) is a faster more confident rider, but she rides at a pace that does not drive anyone crazy. Now we ride as a family lots of places and are considering a bike touring “race”.
If Dev was 4-6 now, what would we do? I think we would try one of those “balance” bikes that look like bikes with out the pedals. I think we would not even try training wheels, just go from the tricycle to a balance bike and back and forth. Get the reciprocal motion on the tricycle and the balance from the “balance bike”. Her younger brother learned to balance on one of these and it was a much easier transition to the bike than Dev’s older sister’s from training wheels to a free bike.
So we have no question all of our time, sweat and elbow grease was worth it already, but other benefits have we earned? Social inclusion, family time together, physical fitness all wonderful. Independence, pre-driving skills… that is certainly true for “typical” teens so what about Dev? She has learned a lot of the rules of the road, “tight to the right”, how to steer and not look at the handle bars, avoid obstacles, merge, speed matching… So do I think Dev will drive? I do think so. It will take more time and more practice and the final will be more restricted (maybe just on the farm in Missouri) but I do think Dev will drive. I know she will almost as proud as we are already.