Do you remember the first time you rode a bike for the first time without training wheels? Many of us don’t.
While I don’t remember my age, I do remember teaching myself to balance on a bike and riding without help. I would roll down a grass hill and try to pedal without falling over. I fell over quite a bit until it clicked. Then you never forget again.
That’s where the phrase, it’s just like riding a bike came from.
The most uncoordinated person can learn and seemingly never forget.
Recently I felt it was time to take the training wheels off of Harrison’s bike. The plan was to teach him the exact same way I taught myself. Katie and I figured the biggest challenge would be frustration on Harrison’s part. Four year old kids don’t put much stock in patience.
Harry got his first big boy bike for his third birthday and ever since there have been two training wheels attached. It made for a great learning experience and many hours of riding.
One of my favourite memories of last summer was seeing the joy Harry got out of riding in circles near our house.
It gave him time to learn the rules of the road, how to pedal, how to turn and to build up leg strength.
His bike was one of the first things we had to get from the storage unit after moving to Toronto. The kid needed his wheels.
For the past three months he has taken his bike around a good part of the Danforth and we even hauled it to the cottage.
Riding his bike is easily one of Harry’s favourite things in the world.
I felt he was ready to learn to truly ride his bike simply because I have seen him balance without problem on his scooter. He has great balance in general for a four-year old.
It was like training wheels were only slowing his progress, like a safety net. He was not going to care to learn or improve as long as they were there.
So, finally, we had a free afternoon, just the two of us and I came out with the wrench.
It was time.
Harry said he was ready. He was very excited.
Off came those darn wheels. His bike looked like a grown up bike all of a sudden.
The plan was to walk over to the park where I knew there was a slight hill on the grass.
Harry, got on and wanted to get going.
We discussed patience, watching where he was going and that if he stopped moving, he would fall over.
We practiced putting feet down and knowing how the brakes worked.
I held on and guided him as we walked on the sidewalk. Every now and then I would just let go. He would fall sideways and get mad.
I would remind him the wheels were gone and he would say oh yeah each time with this giggle.
Finally we got to the park and we found the hill.
Years in the making for this special dad moment. My boy was going to ride a bike for the first time.
I braced myself for frustration and annoyance for both of us. I was ready to do whatever it took to make it happen.
I was ready to just be dad and not some overbearing teacher.
We went to the top of the hill, he got on and I said 1-2-3……and gave him a push.
He rolled, got his balance, starting pedaling and he was gone.
It was all over in about seven seconds.
He was riding his bike across the field like he was Leo Dicaprio on the front of the Titantic. For the next 10 seconds he was king of the world.
He stopped, put his feet down and turned with the biggest grin. In that moment it was like he grew up 15 years and just passed his driver’s test.
It went so fast I did not even really get to have a dad moment to myself.
After we both had our moment, we high-fived and kept riding.
He was doing circles and circles and smiling ear-to-ear. It was amazing.
Once I had a chance to sit, I of course had to alert family, friends and the world via my phone. Feedback was instant. This was a special moment for sure.
Then it was bike to just riding. Riding and enjoying the pure joy of the moment.
Congrats buddy. I don’t think I would have ever thought you would be cruising around on a real bike before your fifth birthday, but of course, you continue to amaze me.