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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Knee Injury Leads to Bike Riding

Sports Girl dislocated her patella a couple of weeks ago – first in P.E. and then again a few days later at soccer practice. Both were extremely painful and scary experiences for her even though both times the kneecap almost immediately went back into place without any manipulation.

After the second dislocation incident, she visited the doctor. The diagnosis? She hadn’t done any permanent damage to her knee, and she may just be prone to this type of injury because of how her kneecap sits on her knee and how she moves. She should wear a knee brace to give her support (we tried out several and purchased one for her last weekend), and she should exercise to build up her thigh muscles.

The muscles actually hold the knee in place – not the ligaments and tendons. One great way to strengthen thigh muscles is to go bike riding, preferably up hill.

This has prompted us to get our bikes out of the garage, hose the dust off, pump up the tires, grease the chains and get ready to ride. Sports Girl pulled Busy Toddler in the bike trailer up and down our third-of-a-mile gravel driveway earlier today (Sunday, May 3,). The driveway slopes slightly downhill, which requires an uphill ride on the way home. Busy Toddler had a blast and didn’t even mind wearing the bike helmet, and Sports Girl got a good workout to keep her in shape to play soccer.

We are also planning a family bike ride this evening. It’s a nice day – 50+ degrees with little wind, which is unusual for us. The clouds are starting to move in, so hopefully they don’t bring rain. It should be fun, and it will do us all some good to get some fresh air and some exercise!