I am very new to fatherhood, one week in fact, since we adopted our eight year old son. I did not know what to expect or how to prepare. My son is wonderful. He received a bicycle from our church who gave a shower for him before his arrival. He wanted to learn how to ride his new red bike right when he got home. I started with the hold onto the seat method and walked beside him, but he couldn’t grasp the concept of balancing the bike for himself. He was learning how to ride a bike with training wheels before we met him, and I didn’t think our rocky dirt road and driveway would handle training wheels very well, especially if he wasn’t learning to balance. The PE teacher at my school mentioned something off the cuff about removing the pedals off the bike to teach the child to balance, so the first full day home, I took off his pedals.
At first he was concerned that I would desecrate his new bike like that, but I told him he could earn his pedals back once he learned to balance his bike by coasting down our slight inclined dirt drive-way. And so, the practicing began. One small accident and a bee sting later, he earned one of his pedals back and could use the one pedal to start his momentum. He wanted both pedals, but I would not let him have it until he began to trust in his balance. By the next day, he had began to trust his balance on the bike. I gave him his second pedal. He mounted his bike for the first time with two pedals and took off pedaling away, stopping; however, was more of a trick, but he managed without falling because he had learned to trust his balance. In two days he was riding his bike without training wheels. I was amazed because that first day was difficult to watch, and I thought we could be in this for days without pedals. Often he would stop and take a break and each time he would return with more determination. With each return to his bicycle, it seemed his newly acquired skills came with him too, which perpetuated his ability to learn and become more independent. In the last day, he has progressed from using his hand brake to using his pedal break. He also gained the ability to start himself by rotating his pedal with his knee into what we call a starting position to easily pedal start himself moving forward without needing a push. He has been chipping away at a hill we have near our home by practicing control and the ability to ride down it after his crash on the second day. He is progressing so well that we took him out on a bike path in town and rode about 5 miles before breaking for lunch. Now, he hops on his bicycle and rides around the property following paths I use to get firewood.