Day Two, By George, he’s got it!

He was the last amongst his peers to learn to ride without stabilisers, always very worried about falling off, but then he is the youngest in his year. I had tried the ‘correct’ technique of taking the pedals off so he would learn his balance before pedaling, but he just never got on with it, too panicky about wobbling and falling over to even get the bike going. I got a secondhand BMX for his birthday it was heavily in need of some TLC which I duly supplied, along with a sweatband and a t-shirt with ‘BMX’ on, his Grandma got him a full-face helmet. I hoped it would stimulate him into wanting to learn to ride again. Yesterday he got his first bike out, with the stabilisers and started rolling down our garden path. As we were set to go and see Lucy’s parents, I casually suggested that he might like to take the little bike with him. He did, he even rode it down to their house (with stabilisers on). The whole afternoon he just rolled round and round the drive, until late in the afternoon I said “Hey let’s have a quick go without stabilisers ok?”. His grandad took them off, then pumped up the tyres. I just held onto the rack, not letting go for about thirty or so runs, then he naturally started pulling away from my hands so he was riding without me for a couple of meters. Emboldened by success he got me to let go earlier and earlier, until all I was doing was holding him steady while he got his feet on the pedals. That’s how we left it yesterday,  he was pedaling ten meters or so on his own, wobbling a bit, but absolutely elated. Before he fell asleep that evening he said “I rode my bike today”.

This afternoon he took the helmet down again, within ten minutes he was setting off by himself without anyone holding the bike, five minutes later he was turning corners, and ten minutes after that he was cycling round and round, swooping in and out of the car port, up and down the drive without putting his feet down.

What amazed me was just how quickly he took to it, the absolute pleasure of riding a bike, the ease of it. Even he could not believe how quickly he’d learned. In his mind, riding a bike had been a seemingly insurmountable problem, blown up to huge proportions, but all of his anxiety just melted away over the last twenty four hours as he learned how to ride.

Mind you, he hasn’t properly crashed yet. Just as you never forget how you learned to ride (Owain Carter, a year above me, running alongside me as I eased my red vindec down the weed infested gravel drive of our house he was shouting ‘you’re doing it, you’re riding!’) you also never forget your first crash (straight over the handlebars five seconds after Owain Carter shouted ‘now use your brakes!’ I looked back ‘my whats?’ crump! Into the sandpit!).

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post when the stabilisers first came off.

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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