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Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bike (Or not)

Last August, I made a promise to Samuel that if he learned to ride his bike without training wheels I would buy him a new bike (and helmet).  I thought this motivational tool would implore him to learn to ride his current bike.

Not so much.

I rode in the neighborhood with him.  I raised the training wheels higher.  We went to the bike store and looked at the bikes.


Then, we bought the Dear Wife a bike.

Family night became bike riding night.  We circled the parking lot of a nearby church.  I continually reminded him of the promise I had made him.  We made more trips to the bike shop.  He let me know which one he wanted to buy.

But he still hasn’t learned how to ride his bike.

I then stumbled upon a video on Bicycling.com that promised results in teaching your child how to ride.  I watched the video.  It seemed so simple.  (They made it look so easy).

I went to Samuel.  I explained what we would do.  I suggested that we would go on Saturday.  And he agreed.

Part of the tip was to find a grassy area with a gentle slope that leads to a flat area.  I thought (repeat, I thought) I knew of a place.

I should’ve revisited the area instead of relying on my memory (of many years ago).


The plan:  Implement tips from video.  Go to the park.  Teach Samuel to ride a bike.  Go to the bike store and purchase the new bike.  Go to Brusters and get some ice cream.

The reality.  I passed two other locations that made me think “That would be an ideal place like the video suggested.  But we’ll keep driving to the park because the park will be better (first mistake).”  It was hot (high 90’s and pushing 100).  The walk from the parking lot to the “hilly” and grassy area was far longer than I remembered.  (Perhaps because I had never walked it but had always ridden through this area on a bike.)

Things I was told while we walked to the grassy, hilly area.

“This place stinks.”

“It’s hot.”

“It smells like somebody pooped in the woods.”

“You’re walking too fast.  Slow down.”

“I want to stop and rest.”

But we eventually found the area I remembered.  Except it wasn’t hilly (not even remotely).  And most of the area hadn’t been mowed in awhile.

Yet we were here and we were going to make do.  We would learn to ride this bike.

I found a slope, lowered the seat, and instructed Samuel on how to push down the slope (just like the video said).

He tried.


“I’m ready to go.”

“Not yet.”

“I want to sit down.”

We found a shaded area with a bench.

“Can we go buy my bike now?”

“But you haven’t learned to ride this one yet.”

Shoulders slumped.  “But it’s too hot.”

“Let’s keep trying.”

We find another sloped spot.  Samuel decides he wants to fast-track the program and just pedal down the grassy slope.  He makes it two inches before falling over.  (This does not help.)  He tries going down the slope three more times (with a little prodding).

This is not working.  The video made it look so easy (so incredibly easy).  People weren’t getting mad or frustrated in the video.  They were smiling, riding their bikes, and stopping for ice cream.

Plan B

I convinced Samuel to ride on the sidewalk from shaded spot to shaded spot with me holding the back of his seat.  We didn’t fall.

“Can we go buy my bike now?”

“But you haven’t learned how to ride yet.”

“I wanna go home.  I’m hot.  I’m thirsty.”

(So maybe I overlooked the fact that I should’ve brought a Gatorade or a water.)

I give up, and we make the long walk back to the car.

When we arrive at the parking lot, a couple in the parking spot next to us has just finished riding their bikes.  The woman asks Samuel if he enjoyed his bike ride.  He ignores her and climbs into the car while I wrestle his bike into the trunk.

“Do you want to try again later?”

“Not today.”

Categories: Books, Samuel
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