Gravel Gets in the Way of Youth Bike Riding

Horse Lover didn’t learn to ride her bike until she was 8. That’s not incredibly old, but Sports Girl had learned to ride without training wheels when she just shy of five. Of course the two are just very different girls.

Horse Lover wasn’t even excited to ride with training wheels when she was a preschooler and we lived in town, and she was even less interested in riding when we moved to the country and gravel or grass were her only options for riding surfaces.

Two years ago in May, Handsome Hubby informed Horse Lover that she was going to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. The news was nothing short of devastating for her.

The process involved dressing Horse Lover in long pants and shirts even if the weather was hot, loading the bike in the back of the pickup, grabbing the helmet and heading into town. We unloaded in an empty school parking lot in a quiet residential area; Horse Lover got onto the bike and either Handsome Hubby or myself would run, holding the bike, while Horse Lover pedaled.

It took several trips to town, a few teary fits, and at least one major setback involving a collision with a tree before Horse Lover mastered the skill. But by the end of the summer she was riding her bike confidently – even on the gravel around the ranch.

Now it’s time for Horse Lover to move to a larger bike that uses squeeze brakes on the handlebars rather than those applied from pedaling backwards, and she’s scared again. We are planning to get her a bigger bike for her 10th birthday coming up on Friday. We’ve actually already told her that she’s getting a bike for her birthday whether she wants one or not, because we don’t want her to be disappointed. It must be a bummer to get something for your birthday that you don’t really want, but a bike is just too expensive to buy for no reason at all as we’d still have to get her a birthday gift.

The good news is that last night while we were all out bike riding, Horse Lover discovered that the county road beyond our driveway offered a much smoother ride. And now with Sports Girl’s training needs and Busy Toddler enjoying her ride in the bike trailer, Horse Lover is actually looking forward to some family bike rides. I hope she maintains that enthusiasm with her new larger bike.

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