As of Wednesday evening, my son Brandon has officially joined the ranks of those who can ride a bike. He is nine years old. We had tried awhile back with a little progress, but this time he got the hang of it on the third outing, much like when he learned to swim last year.
I spent the first day with him in our cul-de-sac going around on the sidewalk in circles basically holding him up from the left side with my hands on the handlebars. The second day, I took him to the local elementary school parking lot so that we would have more room. While it provided for some good bonding time between us ("I like spending time with you, dad"), it still felt like it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle. I was literally jogging backwards and holding the handlebars. I would let go for a second or so just so that he could feel what it was like to balance, however briefly.
Day three: We got a tip from some fellow homeschoolers that I decided to try. They said to remove the pedals completely, and lower the seat so that he could balance the bike and sort of scoot/glide around using his feet to stop. In the meantime, Pam had installed training wheels on his bike and on Aleah's (she is seven). We decided to try the training wheels, but they weren't working right anyway, so I just rotated them up and out of the way for him. Aleah likes hers for now.
I did lower his seat, but the pedals looked too daunting to remove, so I left them on. He played for awhile, then I asked him if he was ready to try again. By this time, Pam and our girls were about 100 yards away on the playground relaxing while I was with Brandon.
I raised the seat back up, and he got on. I held his left handlebar with my right hand holding his left arm. We started slowly, then picked up speed. I kept pace with him, then I took my hands off completely when he said he was ready. I did this for a couple of seconds, maybe three, on the first try.
The second try, I just had a feeling that he could do it.
"Brandon, do you want me to let go? Do you have it?"
"Yes, dad. I think so."
I let go.
And go he went.
He went for about 10 seconds unassisted in a straight line, then back across the parking lot in the same fashion.
We could hear Pam hollering and clapping, even on this very windy evening. I was also hollering and clapping for him, of course. Pam came running to hug and congratulate him. Pam revealed that she was watching and praying from a distance, then she said that she almost couldn't believe her eyes. I felt the same way. We have had some balance issues with Brandon which required occupational therapy for about two years, so this is a BIG milestone for all of us. Tears welled up in our eyes and we hugged each other. I was proud of Aleah for her cool support of her older brother ("Wow, Brandon! You did really well!").
We celebrated with a pizza party at the house afterwards (his request).
Yesterday, we worked on steering and getting started from a dead stop without help. He did marvelously. Tonight, we went down to the parking lot and he is already getting FAST! He also seems remarkably error-free for a new cyclist. Sharp kid! He even challenged me to a race (me on foot, him on bike). I like the newfound confidence that he is showing. I need to take my bike for a tuneup so that we can ride together soon.
I have some video from our camcorder that I will attempt to share on another post, if I can figure it out. I guess I need to get one of those flip cameras soon.
Thanks for reading about our special day!