Jude just turned four, and some days it feels like he is 4 going on 14: he is his own little man. After literally taking a backseat over the last few years in his Burley trailer, this year he was ready for a bike of his own. He has been riding around on his tricycle for a couple of years now and has learned how to pedal and steer. Our neighbors were gracious enough to give Jude a Skuut that they were no longer using, but, unfortunately, he never really took to it.
Getting the gear
After his birthday party, Jude went to the store with Anna’s parents to pick out his bicycle. We opted to get the bike from Walmart because he’ll only use this one for a couple of years; the bike he picked out was a fourth of the price of bikes we checked out at bike shops. I couldn’t let my inlaws spend that kind of money on a bicycle he won’t use for too long.
Jude enjoyed riding his new bike through the aisles of Walmart more than picking one out. Thanks to the training wheels that came with the bike, he was able to get some bike time in before heading back outside to the snow.
We did go to a local bike shop to buy him a bike helmet. We bought him one a couple of years ago when he traveled in the Burley with us; however, he outgrow that one, and we wanted to get another quality helmet. It’s funny to think that no one in our neighborhood wore helmets when I was a kid, but now I rarely see a kid or adult riding their bike without a helmet. It’s a wonder that I walked away from all those crashes when I was a boy.
Learning to ride a bike
Although it’s April and still snowing, we were able to take advantage of some decent weather a couple of weeks ago to go for a ride. Well, to be honest, he rode and I walked beside him, helping him out if needed.
Jude just wants to hop on the bike and go. I tried my best to show him how to brake, steer without tipping over, and keep an eye out for what is in front of him. As I was showing him all this, it was clear that it was going in one ear and out the other. He just wanted to go for a “loooong bike ride”. It’s definitely hard as a parent to know how much to say and show your kids versus giving them a little space and letting them figure it out on their own.
He kept a good pace and stopped at the end of a corner and looked for cars before proceeding to the next block. However, once we hit a little bit of an incline, it became harder for him to pedal. As he was trying to put more effort into his pedaling, he started steering his bike in different directions, and pretty soon he was off the sidewalk and into the grass and on the ground.
A few blocks down, the sidewalk sloped down and he started yelling for me to help him stop. Again, he found himself in the grass and then on the ground. He stood up and wanted to get back on and pedal some more. I was very proud to see his determination and perseverance. I moved the bike to the corner of the block, and let him get on back on. He struggled to get the bike going from a standstill and fell over onto the cement.
He’s had enough
After falling on the cement, Jude decided he was done biking. He found out that cement is not as soft as grass.
He agreed to head home, but I ended up rolling his bike while he ran ahead of me. This took me back to the times where Anna and I found ourselves on walks pushing an empty stroller while Jude walked beside us. I look forward to the summer and teaching Jude to steer and control the bike. Maybe we will even be training wheel free by the end of the year.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help your child learn to ride a bike? Have you had any luck with the pedal-less bikes like the Skuut? If so, I’d love to hear your input in the comment section below.