THE FIRST MILE IS THE HARDEST: TEACHING YOUR KIDS TO RIDE.
All due respect to Morrissey, the last mile isn’t the hardest mile. It’s the one where you learn how to balance. It’s all up and downhill but amazing from there.
Before we get to the actual steps, one caveat: One half of 18milesperhour believes that your kids will learn faster if someone else teaches them. When your kids are faced with potentially scraping knees, they know how to push Mum and Dad’s buttons.
Step 1: Point the child up a gentle incline.
I know, it sounds counter-intuitive but it’s a truth. Learning to ride is easier going uphill. We have no scientific proof, but Brian in his “Einstein Freudian Armchair” thinks it may have something to do with not feeling the bike run away with you. I think he may be right; In addition, you have to pedal uphill. And if you’re pedaling, you’re not thinking about balancing. Who knows? But it works. Try it.
Step 2: Hold the back of the saddle.
Don’t hold the handlebars, you’re not helping the child learn to balance. Don’t hold their arm, you end up steering and throwing them off. Shoulders, no. One of those handles that bolts on to the seat post? Save your dough. Just hold on to the saddle, with decreasing amount of support. The wonderful thing about this is that you are behind the child. So when, ever so carefully and quietly, you feel they have found their balance, you let go, you stop and watch them go. But keep talking. They think you are still holding. It’s clever, a little deceitful, but it works.
Step 3: If they don’t ride in 15mins, call it a day and try again tomorrow.
Some get it, some don’t. It’s fine, it’s cool. You may be all hopped up with a camera rolling…calm down. One day they’ll get it. Tomorrow, maybe. Nobody ever looks at a cyclist and say’s “you look as if you learned to ride when you were 3! You nailed it first time didn’t you, look how smooth and balanced you are!” Pack it in, don’t sweat it, be positive and come back later.
Step 4: Don’t let Mom watch until the child can ride.
Another truth: Mothers are hard wired to protect their babies. Fellas, we are too, but that wiring gets crossed with other circuits programmed to push our kids to greater heights. Don’t put their Mum through the pain of watching their little ones bounce and bump onto the asphalt. It’ll just end in tears, mostly the mother’s.
So there you go. Four steps, one very important and liberating skill.
It’s a gift none of you will ever forget as long as you live.
Now on to the next ten thousand miles…
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