Learning to Bike in Summer

Two weeks ago, we decided to revive biking lessons for my son, Renz. This was after we agreed that there will be no swim lessons this summer. The nice thing about biking in summer is there are no water puddles on the ground to contend with.

Water can make the ground slippery. Falls from the bike, which are inevitable, can become messy with the mud on a wet road.

Renz had previous attempts to learn to ride the bike last year. But these were merely "bike appreciation" sessions. Sure he rode the bike, but it was all through the aid of bicycle training wheels.

Training Wheels Don't Help

The training wheels were bought at one of the thrift shops in Divisoria. They're cheap and are easy to install on the rear wheel of the bike. The bike is a hand-me-down red bike from Renz's sisters.

Renz rode the bike with the training wheels installed. And that's about it with the bike appreciation.

Renz got the feeling of riding the bike but without real balance. Even when the training wheels were raised a little, you can see one of them touching the ground at any time. Turning the bike at a corner was slow because the bike cannot be angled properly to execute the turn.

And so this year, we removed the training wheels.

Effective Way to Teach Someone to Bike

All my three daughters know how to ride a bike and one thing I'm proud of is I was actively involved in teaching each one of them. None of them used training wheels.

They all learned the old-fashioned way. Yup, that meant me running up and down the street holding the bike seat while the child pedals the bike.

And so this summer, for four days, Renz, DH and I went to a quiet road down the street for Renz's bike lessons. This road had a dead end and so there were no pesky tricycle drivers plying it.

I had to tug DH along as I wasn't up to huffing and puffing in the hot summer sun even in the mornings.

Here's DH help Renz start with the bike. Notice her holding the bicycle seat.

Coming back with the bike while still holding the bicycle seat. Renz is even wearing a pair of improvised knee pads. These were simply cut from my old socks. As they say, you never get to learn how to bike until you get a couple of falls.

The learning key points at this stage is for the child to learn to steer the bike's direction with the handle bar, slow down or stop the bike with the hand brakes and feel the balance while pedaling the bike.

At the fifth day, we could feel we didn't need to hold the bike seat as much as Renz has learned to balance himself. The bike seat is low enough for Renz to touch the ground with both his feet so we encouraged him to do the bike start and stop himself.

And soon enough, he was biking on his own.

Here's Renz managing a hump on the street.

The next learning key points were for him to do tight turns, both clockwise (to right) and counterclockwise (to left). We had him do figure-of-eight turns at a nearby basketball court that is empty in the mornings.

Screeching to a halt under the watchful eye of the instructor.

Freewheeling at the empty basketball court.

Two objects were placed on the ground so he could circle them in a figure-of-eight pattern. As he became good at managing the turns, we moved the two objects closer together so he could angle the bike and slow down as needed to execute the tighter turns.

Doing counterclockwise turns.

Managing clockwise turns with a smile.

And finally, heading home - alone with the bike. Another one of lifelong skills learned.

As he became better, Renz was allowed to try other routes in the neighborhood. He became good enough that he even sought to do errands like buy bread from the neighborhood bakery.

Go ahead, post your comment below!

arGlene said...

Wow, he's a fast learner. :) I so miss riding the bike. :(

Blackdove said...

Yes he is. I was amazed too. The wave board is next.

arGlene said...

Wave board, wow! He's such a brave boy and adventurous too. never too afraid to try something new that eventually he'll enjoy doing.

Blackdove said...

The wave board is a rather treacherous toy as I've found out when I tried it. So his tita bought some inexpensive protective gear (helmet and pads) in Divisoria. We'll see how it goes.