Teaching My Child To Ride a Bike

by Christine@TheAums on November 16, 2012 · 16 comments

Because I had a terrible 6 a.m. workout this morning, I want to tell you all about the best workout I’ve had lately. It’s a total cardio adrenaline rush that combines walking, jogging, and running fast, all while yelling encouraging phrases like, “You can do it!” “You got this!” and “Look at you go!” It also helps you lose water weight because there may be some tears involved.

It’s called teaching your child to ride a bike.

My daughter is five and has been riding a pedal-less balance bike for a couple years now. We mutually decided a sunny Saturday morning was the perfect time to try riding a bike with pedals and her brother’s bike was the right size for practice.

Here’s what happened over the course of one hour last weekend.

Before we started, I shared a few of my own bike-riding stories in an attempt to prevent any discouragement should she fall early on. Like the time I received a brand new pink Huffy when I was eight years old. I had all the confidence in the world riding it up and down the street for the first time, my zig zags getting ziggier and zaggier and boom! Skinned knee and elbow and of course no helmet back then. Or the time in college I tried mountain biking for the first time and crashed, literally, at the very entrance of the trail where pavement met dirt. And lastly, for her and your entertainment, there was the time I was on my way to buy a helmet and crashed in the intersection across the street from the bike shop. Good times!

I tried holding on to the back of her seat, but what really worked best was to hold onto the middle of the handle bars. I gave her some pointers which turned into mantras I could see her mouthing to herself as she pedaled: Strong legs, strong arms! Push forward, pull back!

At first she was a little wobbly, but I think all the practice on a pedal-less bike really paid off as far as balance goes. It was the steering that challenged her for a bit.

Before long I noticed I was loosening my grip on her handlebars. I let her know she was riding on her own, but she didn’t quite believe me. So I lifted my hands and made a look-ma-no-hands move and she lost all confidence within seconds, nearly going down.

We went up and down the neighborhood a few more times, she getting faster and faster, me getting out of breath and breaking a sweat.

She asked if I could try letting go again, so I did, and this time she maintained her balance and speed. I simply ran alongside her, cheering her on.

You can do it! You got this! Look at you go!

Sentimental mama that I am, I also had to throw in, “Even if you don’t need me I’ll always be here for you. Just remember that.”

But she did still need me because up until this point she could only go in a straight line down the street. In order to turn, she would get off and turn her bike around, needing a little push to get started again.

A very short time later she asked if I could let her do everything by herself. “Of course,” I said and watched her mount and take off on her own. I started running alongside when she said, “No mama, I mean everything. Like don’t even run beside me anymore.”

And just like that, she was off riding her bike. Up, down, and all around the neighborhood. In driveways, on sidewalks, in circles. Stopping and starting again with ease.

She’s riding a bike for the first time and meanwhile I’m flipping ahead through the pages of her life’s album, watching her grow up before my eyes. The tug of war we’ve been playing since she was born, not against each other, but within ourselves as she becomes more and more independent. Her days of pulling me close are still many, but the pushing me away is inevitable.

She pushes forward with one pedal while pulling back with the other, the joy of a new skill evident in her smile. I let her know, “I’m so proud of you!”

She’ll never forget how to ride a bike and I’ll never forget watching her learn.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Angel Tsunami November 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

You are the best mom. And also, if I remember correctly, one of my best friends. Which I honored to feel that way…

But I miss you. I was going to say I miss your ass, but then I remembered that your parents read your blog and I don’t want to offend them.

Sorry, needed to make myself laugh. Today’s mist is also making me teary-eyed.


Your #humanbecoming,
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Christine@TheAums November 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I have two words for you: Burke Williams. Or a run at night dodging skunks. Or some Boba tea and In-n-Out fries. It don’t matter…must see you SOON! Xoxo!


Angus November 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

It is quite a skill to describe a Universal activity and have it be fresh and exhilirating for the reader. Well done, Aumbre!
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Christine@TheAums November 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Angus, you are a very skilled commenter ;) Thank you!


grandma November 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm

this made me lose water weight too! kids growing toooooo fast!
Angel no offense taken…say what you want to say…. we can take it.


Christine@TheAums November 17, 2012 at 7:36 am
Pam November 17, 2012 at 7:31 am

This post brought back sweet memories of doing this same thing, and now I’m all teary. (We sent our son down the backyard lawn on his bike, because we were too chicken to teach him on the concrete. The neighbors sat in their backyard and cheered. It was fun.) Stopped by from Saturday Sharefest. Have a great weekend!
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Christine@TheAums November 17, 2012 at 7:37 am

That really is a sweet memory! Love the neighbors cheering. Thanks for stopping by!


Tracey @ Dont Mess with Mama November 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Woo-hoo! That is so exciting! My middle son was 5 year old too and it was thrilling to watch him pick it up so quickly. Congrats to you mama for teaching her. I made my husband do it. ;)
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Christine@TheAums November 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

Did your son start on a balance bike as well? I think that was key to her learning so fast without training wheels.


Runnermom-jen November 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

What a huge milestone it is to learn to ride a bike. Thank you for sharing your embarrassing moments with us…I’ve fallen off of my bike more times than I’d like to share…I’m so clumsy.
You are a great mom…knowing when to let go and to always be there, that’s a hard thing to do!
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Christine@TheAums November 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Jen, imagine only a few days after posting I had to do a video shoot where I rode a beach cruiser near the beach. I was terrified of falling the entire time!


Janice November 29, 2012 at 8:10 am

How bittersweet this is! My husband taught my Eldest how to ride a bike…but I do remember the first time I watched her ride it without training wheels. It was amazingly a crazy feeling of joy and sadness – like watching her graduate to next step in her childhood, you know?

Great post. Thanks for sharing. Your daughter is so adorable on her bike. You go girl! Whoohoo!
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Christine@TheAums November 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm

It really is bittersweet…riding a bike is such a metaphor for life- you should write a poem! See, I just inspired you :)


Columba Lisa November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Oh wow, can I relate to this! Definitely, running in a crouched position while pushing my 3 y.o.’s bike and clutching my newborn to my chest was the ultimate way to lose that post-baby weight! I will never forget – hardest workout ever, lol!
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Christine@TheAums November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Funny how I miss those days of doing anything and everything with a baby strapped to me…made me feel so powerful! These days I find myself walking around thinking “What is missing? Oh yeah, the baby!”


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