Well, RMT’ers, Monday for us was a day that C and I as parents will never, ever forget. Yes, it was Memorial Day, and that’s special enough for sure. However, something extra-special happened this Memorial Day that we won’t forget for a long, long time, and I don’t think T will either!
Yep, you are seeing correctly: For the first time Monday, T successfully rode a two-wheeled bicycle! It was truly a remarkable moment in all of our lives. Before Monday, T hadn’t even tried to ride his two-wheeled pedal bike, so when C did nothing more than steady T with his hand on the seat behind him once he was on the bike and T took off within seconds, well, we were both amazed, surprised, and somewhat shocked really! That’s probably why the first photos of the moment are somewhat out of focus and off in the distance (I wasn’t ready to have to run after T to get photos after all).
I’ve had a few people ask me how T was able to accomplish something like this at just four-and-a-half years old. Considering that I was about seven years old and C was about six when we rode two-wheelers without any training wheels, yeah, T’s pretty young for us to have tried to expect anything of this level from him. However, what T had to help him get to this point that neither C nor I had was a balance bicycle.
When T was one-and-a-half, we first learned about balance bikes while on vacation in Germany in March 2009. As the link above describes, a balance bike is a two-wheeled bicycle sized for a toddler and young preschooler that doesn’t come with any pedals nor any brakes. The design of a balance bike is such that the child can sit comfortably on the bike with both feet on the ground so they can first walk then progress to running and lifting their feet up to balance and roll along on the bike. These bikes are how German children had been learning to ride bikes for years, yet they weren’t anything I had seen or heard of to date in the States, most likely because we traditionally use training wheels in our culture. However, after seeing these bikes being used by kids as young as age two, and kids as young as three and four successfully riding traditional two-wheeled pedal bikes, C and I both knew that we wanted to buck American tradition.
There weren’t many options for balance bikes here at home, but luckily we were able to locate a Skuut brand balance bike in a handful of stores and online a few months after that trip. We chose one of Skuut’s wooden models, maybe the only one being sold State-side at the time actually, which gave the bike an extra toy-like charm that proved helpful for us to entice T into the idea that the Skuut was nothing more than a ride-along toy rather than a learning tool.
We introduced the Skuut to T as nothing more than an extra toy that he could ride on first around the house then outdoors. We never pushed T into riding his Skuut, but if he ever asked us to go outside for a ride around the block on it, you bet we went. I think because we encouraged bike-riding only as just one of several fun, playful activities he could participate in rather than something he “needed to learn by x age” that, too, contributed to his bike-riding success. I also think T’s time on the Wee-Ride tag-a-long bike also helped him gain great strides towards his bike balance success.
One more thing that always came with any form of riding anything outdoors for T was that he always has had to wear a helmet. Yes, T has owned and worn a bicycle helmet before age two. This was something that C and I insisted on not only because of the laws here in California but also because it’s the responsible thing to do. Safety first, RMT’ers!
Oh what a fun summer we are going to have… now let’s all go ride our bikes and celebrate!