Oh, we've tried to teach our kids to ride their bikes, believe me! But considering I don't really know how to ride one - remember when I launched this blog declaring I would "learn how to ride a bike (without looking like a spaz)?" Let's just call that a "work in progress." And let's just say the kids' dad (an excellent cyclist) has a somewhat "low threshold" for whining. So us teaching them has been a bust.
Well, Bike New York to the rescue! Bike New York, the organization that runs the 5-boro Bike Tour across New York City, also runs free Learn to Ride classes for kids and adults in city parks. For all of us New Yorkers who grew up with nowhere to ride, there are now beautiful bike paths all over the Big Apple. I took a class for adults in the Bronx and am saving (or burning) those pictures and writing up the stories (painful for me, hilarious for you, lucky readers!) for the book.
But back to the kids. 11-year-old G was not looking forward to the lesson. At all. I believe "Another thing you're dragging me to!" were her actual words. 6 year old R obsessed "I might fall. I'm going to fall. I'm not going to like it if I fall."
The technique was straightforward. First the pedals came off, so they could get the feeling of balancing and coasting on the bike. Then they practiced pedaling while holding themselves steady while looking in the distance, which resulted, not surprisingly, more than once, in falling. But then, much to my surprise, they worked through the betrayal ("Hey! That hurt! I thought this was supposed to be fun!) and got back on.
Why would my kids be willing to do something so painful again? The key, I think was in Dan's tone of voice. The voice that could say "Don't look down, eyes on me" a hundred times in a row without a hint of impatience. He shared his passion with them. They couldn't resist!
Don't get me wrong, in general, my husband and I love teaching our kids. We felt a bit embarrassed calling in professionals. But we're old. Our backs hurt. We would have lasted 20 minutes out there.
In a class, they got to see a whole group of kids learning, falling, facing their fears and not giving up. By the end of the morning they both got a taste of balancing on their two wheelers. They are looking forward to practicing more and getting out on some trails with us (as soon as Mom can learn how to do it without looking like a spaz).
Thank you, Bike NY!