Warning: this post contains swear words and sarcasm. CLICK OUT NOW IF YOU DON’T LIKE SWEAR WORDS. And yes, I’m shouting there.
I’ve been skiting lately on Instagram about how awesome I am now that my kids can ride bikes and we can ride bikes together and it’s so idyllic because we can ride bikes.
Did you get that? Just in case you missed it: YIKES BIKES.
Why am I so excited by this? Because it took us a looong time to get to this point including a doomed dalliance with stabilisers, hysterics, bruises and plus walking anywhere with kids takes shitloads longer than riding. I’m going to share the steps needed to get your little ones awesome on bikes too, not crying or screaming protractedly whilst pushing bikes.
Tips to get your kid riding a bike without the blue murder screams:
Skinned knees, crying, screaming. And that’s just you, the parent, trying to keep up with the little shits as they get their first taste of freedom on the bike and take off like pastel coloured bats out of hell. It’s heaps easier to give them a screen with a bike app rather than get on an actual bike.
2. Balance bike
Still here? Well then the next step is to invest in a balance bike. I thought these were just for wealthy hipster parents who couldn’t get their hands on the latest child-proof Ipad cover and so went for one of these instead. Hold the Apple merchandise people: the hipsters were right! Putting your child onto a balance bike is an excellent way to get them used to gliding along on wheels and steering the handlebars. It’s important their feet fully touch the ground while they sit on the seat otherwise they’ll fall off and you’ll be back to the crying. Once they start to develop their own internal stabilisers (or muscles for us non cycling folk) you’ll see them start to ‘balance’ without feet touching the ground for support for as long as that little bike will carry them.
This is a great chance for you to boost your social media accounts as you post ridiculously cute videos of your child in a helmet. It also gives them plenty of time and practice on the balance bike to build their confidence and core muscles.
I’m a big fan of finding a park bench, giving my children two flat landmarks to ride between and then Instagramming my way through the next 45 minutes. Unfortunately parenting requires more than sitting, so it’s a good idea to facilitate your kids balance biking on different terrains and pathways (if you’re cluey, this will still include lots of sitting). Warning: nothing is more frightening than watching your two year old careen down a hill laughing maniacally. Have wine or a defib machine on standby.
5. Transition to a pedal bike.
You’ll know your kid is ready for the pedal bike when they start whinging they can’t go fast enough on the balance bike. That or you’re sick of having a pedal bike hanging around in the garage that you trip over every time you attempt to get in the car. Just me? Anyway, make sure the seat on the pedal bike is low enough so that they can still touch the ground with their feet (again, important or falling over = shitful crying times). Find somewhere with a slight incline but NOT where you’ll be filming into the sun or that video is never going to go viral= parenting fail. Hold the back of the bike and get your child to put his feet on the pedals, hold on and run behind until they are pedalling. Try to keep up.
6. The brakes.
To be fair, after the balance bike, getting used to the idea of a back brake is pretty hard. The hand brake on the other hand seems to give them too many options and they try to stop with their feet. You’ll have to manually show them how the brakes work. Or they can ruin their shoes. Up to you.
7. First Aid
You should now never leave the house without bandaids and betadine (if you did before). Bikes are dangerous people: my kids have fallen off their bikes because of a cheeky and sudden breeze, a little pine cone sitting in the middle of the path they couldn’t steer around or some poor bugger just trying to go for a walk who is now traumatised because two kids careened toward them yelling “GET OUT OF THE WAY AAAAARRGGGGHHHH!!!” before riding off the path and straight into a paperbark tree.
So there you have it. If this instructional post doesn’t fill you with the confidence needed to chuck your kid on a bike and push them down a path, there are plenty of sensible sites like Bikewise and REI which subscribe to the balance to pedal theory I mentioned here. I’m not affiliated with any of these but if you want to buy a book from booktopia or that ebook I wrote on how to travel with kids without feeling murderous toward them, that’d help me out..
Have you taught your children to ride yet? Screaming and crying or laughing and hooning?