I know this is a little off topic. But consider that riding a bike is as unbound as it gets, and the technique I’m about to share is definitely creative. Plus if everyone left his or her car in the garage and did a little more pedaling we’d be less dependent on foreign (or domestic oil) and be taking a first step in the battle against obesity. So, in a way, this is a public service message.
So, here’s the deal. If you want to teach your son or daughter to ride a two-wheeler I can guarantee this works. (My own son’s been screaming around the neighborhood sans training wheels since he was four.)
1. Take the training wheels and pedals off of your kid’s bike
You read that right; remove the pedals. I’m presuming he already knows how to pedal. We’re now going to learn to balance.
2. Lower the seat so his feet touch the ground flat while sitting
Make sure your child can sit on the bike and touch the ground with the flats — not the toes –of both feet. These are going to be his brakes. I’ll explain in a moment.
3. Find an empty parking lot with a slight incline
Ideally you want a smooth surface whose incline is just enough to allow your kid and his bike to coast down a gentle slope without going to fast.
4. Have your kid sit on the bike with his feet flat on the ground
You should go to the bottom of the incline, maybe 30 yards away. He’s simply going to lift his feet off the ground –holding his feet out to the sides just enough so the bike starts to coast — and aim toward you. (Focusing on you will also teach your child the lifelong lesson of “watching your target line,” advice that works for everything, from cycling to golf to business. But I digress.) If he gets a little nervous and needs to stop, he simply brings his feet back in toward the bike and uses them as brakes. Remember that the incline should have a slope that makes it possible. (Think angled enough that a basketball would roll down it but not so steep that you couldn’t catch up to it.)
5. Here’s what will happen
The first time he lifts his feet off the ground he’ll get a little tipsy and bring them back in to stop almost immediately. The second time he’ll coast 10 yards or so before stopping. The third or fourth time he’ll coast, balancing on two wheels, from the top of the hill down to you. Have him do this a couple of more times, then put the pedals back on. It’s time to repeat the process only now have him start pedaling when he reaches the bottom. He’s a cyclist.
6. What comes next?
Hopefully he’ll pedal for the rest of his life, rolling along with all those who believe cycling is the solution to many of the world’s problems: energy, health, affordable transportation, stress. And maybe you’ll join him, even if it’s been years since you rode.
Lastly, please make sure he wears a helmet and that you do, too. Ride safe.