Happiness is… riding a bike!
But what’s the best way to learn? We all have fond memories of how we were taught to ride a bike by an older relative, but being the teacher can be as testing as being the apprentice. Here are a few tips to set the wheels in motion.
Benefits Of Biking
Why is it important? Just like learning to swim, learning to ride a bike is a valuable skill. It’s a brilliant form of physical activity and it enables children to feel independent. Bike riding is a great family past-time and a wonderful thing to do together on the weekend or on holiday.
Age Is Only A Number
However, the average age for learning to ride a bike without stabilisers is between three and seven. All children are different, and it will depend on lots of factors including their ability and their enthusiasm. If you’re a 'Friends' fan, you’ll remember that Phoebe didn’t learn until she was an adult, but it didn’t stop her proudly cycling around with purple tassels on her handlebars!
Helmets are essential when it comes to cycling, but you can make the process of choosing one fun! First step is to measure their head with a tape measure and the next step is to let them try some on and find one that fits perfectly. If their bike features their favourite comic book hero or TV character, no doubt they’ll want to find a helmet that matches!
Balance bikes and stabilisers are both options as an introduction to cycling. Although most of us would have learnt with training wheels, balance bikes are a more popular way to kick things off now. By learning to balance at an earlier stage, it’s much easier to transition to a real bike. I’m sure we all remember how nervous we felt when our stabilisers were taken off. It was as bad as when our armbands were removed for the first time in the swimming pool!
The Grass Is Always Greener
Grass is a good starting point for cycling because they’ll be less worried about hurting themselves. However, as their confidence grows, it’s better to switch to concrete as it’s much easier to pedal on. Of course, keeping well away from traffic is vital.
Size It Up
Once they’re ready to try a "real" bike, take your time picking one out. You can choose one based on their age or height, but nothing beats trying one out in-store – when they’re sat in the saddle, they should be able to put the balls of their feet on the floor.
Ready, Steady, Ride!
When they’re ready to start riding they’ll want to feel like you’re holding on to them, but as they get more confident you can gradually let go while staying in arm's reach. Learning to brake is an important step, so prioritise this early on! As the saying goes: "If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!"