Saturday, December 26, 2009

Up On Two Wheels - Almost

Few days off for Christmas, busy with family and other related festivities - so I've officially started my winter riding slump - though I continue to stuff my face as if putting the miles in. Thanks to all the holiday cookies, brownies and other goodies - I'll be fully carbo-loaded when I get back on the saddle (burp).

While off, we did attempt to get daughter Amy, now 6 years old, up on two wheels. The incredibly pink little Specialized was purchased over a year ago, that she occasionally rides with training wheels. Over the past year, we've made a few attempts to ride without training wheels - no way, not even close to balancing on her own. As an experiment, I removed the crank, pedals, chain and chain guard, to simulate one of those balance bikes I've seen. Intent is to have the child paddle around, then start coasting feet up, learning to balance along the way.

Sure enough, after a few minutes of paddling around, she was coasting down the slight incline in front of the house - feet up and balancing like a pro. With each attempt, picking up a little speed and veering off into the lawn to slow down - much to her excitement (and mine). We should have tried this months ago!

After 10 runs or so, sans pedals, she begged me to reinstall everything. I thought it was a little too soon, but hey - we're talking about a cute 6 year old here - so I reinstalled all the missing parts. With the simple one piece crank and singlespeed, not really a big deal and just takes a few minutes.

Now outfitted with Barbie knee and elbow pads, we attempted an actual pedal powered ride. I'd love to say she rode off into the sunset with a big smile on her face, but that was not to be. She did balance for a few seconds at a time with me running behind her - but she's not there yet.

No rush, we'll go for another attempt tomorrow. If I need to, will remove the pedal power parts once again, and let her paddle and coast around a bit more. No pressure, she'll get it eventually and this should all be for fun.

Sooner or later, maybe she'll join me on a few rides - something I'm looking forward to.


  1. Glad to see your little Diva trying to go two wheels. I was told do the same thing and have my little one do the push bike thing. We did not do it and we are still doing the training wheels too.

    We need to get a bigger "pink" bike and Santa did not bring one the other night. I am sure we will ge one in the Spring.

  2. My daughter Amy is small for 6 years old and even so, the little pink Specialized is now a bit too small - since we've had it for over a year now and she's sprouted up some. Waiting in the wings is a vintage 20" wheel Schwinn that my wife rode as a kid. Will dust that off soon.

    My son learned to ride at age 5 and after a few attempts with no training wheels - wasn't getting it either. At the time, my parents bought him one of those Razor scooters. After messing with that for a bit, noticed him balancing on it - both feet up. I pulled off the training wheels and he got it instantly - never crashed once, just started riding with no problem.

    After our little experiment, I'd say those balance bikes are the way to go. Either an official purchased one or the homemade version, like we used.

  3. Excellent. Our experience (10 y.o. and 5 y.o. soon to be riding without training wheels) was that the daughters decided when to start riding.

    I did little or nothing. It was helpful (at least for us parents) to have them ride on grass to begin with, so that the inevitable spills resulted in little more than grass stains on barbie kneepads (yup, we have those too here in Italy).

    In any event, she will be riding in no time, I'm sure!

  4. Its good to know Barbie kneepads are available worldwide....

    I had my son wear knee and elbow pads for a few months (non Barbie units), even though he didn't really need 'em. They did save a scrape or two though.

    Now at age 10, he cruises through the woods at pretty fast clip - plenty fast enough to get hurt. So far, nothing worse then a few scrapes and bruises. We do enjoy the father/son time and he digs riding, so - worth the slight risk. I don't think it's really any more dangerous then playing soccer and safer then football.

    My daughter is very much the girly-girl. I don't predict her getting into mountain biking. Who knows - maybe she'll surprise me.