Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's Like Riding a Bike

When Carter turned 4, we bought him a bike from the renowned bicycle expert, Toys-r-us. There was a whopping total of three different bikes on the rack that we thought would fit him and, naturally, we bought him the flashiest one. At the time it seemed of paramount importance that our firstborn not only conquer this preschooler rite of passage well ahead of his peers, but that he looked fly doing it. There was simply no way a Dora the Explorer, or a Thomas and Friends bike was going to fit that bill. Coincidentally, a few months earlier we had traded in my beloved Honda Pilot for our current minivan. I would be remiss if I didn't admit that there is a distinct possibility someone in our family was trying to offset that very uncool decision by buying a hot orange bicycle for their 4-year old.

The sweet bike we brought home that day was a tricked out Mongoose BMX, and with the training wheels attached it weighed about 400 lbs. We thought that was a good thing since it would give him more stability. What we failed to take into the equation was that Carter only weighed a total of 32 lbs., which meant there was not enough of him to provide the necessary torque to efficiently pedal the bike. Idiots that we are, we figured he would eventually grow into it and encouraged him to keep trying to ride it anyway.

Three months after we gave him the bike, Carter participated in the annual YMCA Preschool Bike-a-thon in the 4-year old division. Here he is going about 1 mph on a completely flat surface. See the kid behind him? His much smarter parents had sprung for the 12" Thomas and Friends bike. A year later he was whizzing around this same track WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS.

Meanwhile, Carter (now 5) was still just barely puttering along. He is tolerating my camera only because he is at a complete standstill and is dependent upon me to get him moving again. This was back in April of 2008 - a date that is important only because on Friday (a mere 8 months later), I decided the problem perhaps was not with Carter's lack of biking ability at all, but maybe because his parents had bought him a sucky starter bike.

So yesterday afternoon, Carter and I drove down to Trek where I proceeded to have him professionally fitted for a bicycle his size. Then, after listening to an exceptional savvy sales pitch, I plunked down an exorbitant amount of money for yet another brand new starter bike for my precious firstborn. Let's just say I felt the purchase price was appropriate penance for the suffering we put him through with the first bad bike. Then we went home, told his dad all about it and watched him have a heart attack. All in all, it was an eventful day and it was only 4:00pm.

Fortunately, while I was making dinner, Carter was busy proving to his father that the problem really was with the old BMX bike all along. As you can see here, we're proponents of the ridiculously effective no-training-wheels method. Also working in our favor for the first time EVER is the fact that we live on a very steep hill.

In about an hour and a half, he had mastered balance, could glide on his own for quite a distance, and was confident in using the hand brake. Not only that, he was happy. It's an emotion we've never associated with biking before.

We knew when he could successfully round the corner of the cul-de-sac (this morning) that it was time to put on the pedals. His coach helped him with that this afternoon. About 10-15 minutes later, the guy was racing the kid on the chopper.

I am pleased to report that Carter has officially beaten the battle of the bike.


  1. That has to be my very favorite blog post EVER EVER EVER. I cried. Whoooo hoooooo Carter!

  2. Way to go, Carter!! You look like a pro! I love you!

  3. Get him a motorbike next....

  4. Well done, Carter! Oh, and I'm all for the motorcycle next too. Start 'em young!

  5. Carter, you are the coolest bike rider in your suit and helmet!
    Love, Babu and Bibi

  6. Just re-read this. Still just as awesome! Goooo Carter/.

  7. This is awesome, well timing actually, I'm going to buy my son his first bike this weekend, I'm a little nervous of teaching him, what if he falls and hit hard.