Sunday, September 15, 2013


Yesterday after the pig pickin' we spent a long and frustrating afternoon trying to figure out how to ride our bikes. Rachel was the most frustrated of all and I was in close second. She would yell at me every time she fell off her bike as if it were my fault that gravity is a thing. Eventually I told her that bike riding time was over and then I went inside and told Daddy that we'll be looking into training wheels.

He swears that it's possible to learn how to ride a bike without them. I think he's failing to calculate the possibility that [she inherited my complete lack of coordination] into that equation.

She wants to ride and she just can't. In fact, she's never successfully pedaled a bicycle in her life. That little pink tricycle between Rachel and Benjamin? That was a gift from her Auntie Kelli (slash a hand-me-down from her twin cousins) for her third birthday.

Rachel never pedaled it. Even though her feet reached the pedals she'd always just sit on it and walk it along with her feet.

This bike that Benjamin's trying out?

We picked it up from craigslist super cheap. Rachel can pedal it now that she's six but she looks a little ridiculous on it. She rode it for a bit at three and four and five but never well. Not at all. But the fact that she can ride it now is encouraging. It makes me think that if we just popped some training wheels on her bike she'd at least have mobility—and when the neighbourhood kids are out riding their bikes and scooters on the street she could actually join in the fun.

Miriam's not great at biking either, but this fact is made less embarrassing by the simple trait of being three. She can pedal backward (fortunately this bike doesn't have brakes so pedaling backward makes the bike move backward instead of stopping it) but really struggles going forward. She doesn't even care yet because the four-year-old across the street is still stuck on a tricycle, too.

I don't think I should be the one to teach my kids how to ride a bike. I'm sure one day they'll get it but I don't think it will be under my tutelage. Rachel wants to learn so bad but she's just plain awful at. She doesn't even have to be on the bike to fall off of it. She just has to look at it wrong and it will knock her over and jump on top of her. She falls over all the time. This makes her grumpy and it makes me grumpy and grumpy people simply don't learn well (I'm pretty sure that's been scientifically proven).

To her credit, Rachel keeps on trying. With her tenacity, I'm sure one day things will click. But until that day comes she might be rocking a new set of training wheels.


  1. And, in her family tree, there is me, who did not learn to ride a bike until the summer after Grade SIX. Which means, by junior high, I could ride. Which also means that all through elementary school, I could not. Every spring and summer and fall, I did the whole "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again" thing, and my knees still sport the ugly scars that prove I was a frequent faller. And now that I am big and old and CAN ride a big, the fact of the matter is that riding bikes gives me terrible motion sickness, and if I ride for very long, I throw up. Hope the genes for this (if there are genes for such things) did not get passed to anyone and will not be passed to anyone in the future!

  2. The deal we have going is that I teach them to read, Jeremy teaches them to ride a bike. Teaching a kid to read is hard, but the truth is that some days I think I got the better deal.

    It is possible to learn without training wheels (do they do balance bikes in the US?). However, we recently put training wheels back ON Magdalena's bike for the reasons you mentioned - sometimes it's more important for them to just be able to cruise around with the neighborhood kids. She'll learn eventually (like your mom, above!).

  3. I'd just throw the wheels on. Sure she cold learn to bike in a day without, some kids do, but if she's freaked she probably isn't going to get cruising fast enough to be able to balance easily. We put training wheels back on Gigi's bike and she started loving to ride again...someday, probably next summer we will pull them off and I'm sure she'll do fine. If the training wheels are on right they still have to learn to balance, ie, only one should ever be touching the ground at a time :)

  4. I would just take the pedals off her current bike. She will then learn how to balance and adding the pedals back in isn't nearly as difficult because they don't fall over nearly as much. You can also go pretty fast with just your feet so she can still play with the neighbor kids. Two of my kids have learned with balance bikes and they feel in control since they learn to balance before pedaling. It also takes away the frustrating parent part since once they can balance then they have to figure out the pedal part themselves (meaning we don't have to run behind them; yeah!!) Good luck it is hard.

  5. She's had her pedals off for ages now. She constantly falls over still. The minute she feels the bike tipping she basically lets go of the handle bars and bails. We've even practiced just sitting on the bike and leaning from side to side (no forward motion) and she still falls over. It's pure talent! :)

    1. We actually put the pedals back on this past weekend because she was begging to...but we'll see if they stay on with training wheels or come back off for a balance bike...

  6. I learned to ride without training wheels. I remember crashing into the clothesline pole and being frustrated and wanting to give up. My dad said not to (he's always been one to make me keep doing things when I don't want to). I tend to give up quick so I admire Rachel for trying over and over again.

    I imagine soon, you'll post about her mastering the bike - just like she did swimming!