There are a few things in a first time parent’s life that we are always excited for, yet wary of. Teaching a child how to swim, how to read, how to add two numbers together - these things come so naturally to us we almost don’t remember the time we didn’t know how to do them. So when it came time to teach my daughter how to ride a bike, I was an odd mix of eager and terrified. I had no idea what to do.
After tons of research I finally decided on a Strider bike. I admit I was skeptical with all the claims of how easy it was – my daughter tends to be timid and reserved when trying new things, rather than bold and daring.
She was 2 ½ when it arrived and though I was immediately impressed with how well it was built I was quite intimidated. I remember standing there, holding the bike with my daughter next to me, thinking, well…now what? So I just put it on the ground and showed her where to put her hands, where to sit, how to walk forward on it. She did the rest herself. I stayed back and watched as my daughter taught herself how to glide on this bike.
Within a week she was keeping up with us, coasting down hills and making turns as if the bike was an extension of herself. I was impressed, yet still skeptical. Sure, she could ride a Strider, but what about when I have to teach her how to pedal?
She was 5 when she finally outgrew her little Strider. Remembering the trauma and torn knees and fear and tears of my own bike training experience, I put off teaching her a pedal bike as long as possible. One day I finally broke down and took my daughter to a bike trail near our house.
I hopped out of the car, pretending to be far more confident than I was, and strapped on her helmet. I put the bike on the ground and had her straddle it. Immediately all my research failed me. I stood there for several seconds, terrified and inadequate. I honestly had no idea how to teach my daughter to ride a bike.
Then I found myself saying, “Just pretend it’s your Strider, and when you start coasting, put your feet on the pedals.”
Let me take a break in this narrative to say that I went into this experience expecting a certain outcome based on my experience as a child. I expected blood loss and weeping. I expected scars and screams, I expected to run beside her holding the seat, I expected the entire process to take months.
But what actually happened was I took my husband’s hand and watched as my daughter taught herself to ride a bike.
She never fell down once. She had learned how to catch herself on the Strider and it translated easily to a bigger bike. She never found herself losing balance for any reason other than an inability to quickly locate the pedals with her feet. There were no tears, no crying, no running beside the bike while struggling to keep her upright. I never even touched the bike. Within 15 minutes she was riding several feet at a time and it was, overall, such an enjoyable experience that she is going to miss out on many linguistic tropes in her life. So many metaphors in English are centered around how hard it is to learn to ride a bike – but thanks to Strider, for my daughter, learning to ride a bike was as hard as learning how to eat Cheerios.
I am, now, finally, convinced. I will never own another first bike for my children than a Strider and will be recommending them to everyone I know.
By the way, after 3 years we resold her little pink Strider to another child just learning to bike. Aside from slight wear on the seat, it looked almost brand new.
Thank y'all, you've made this mama very, very happy.