Being a keen cyclist, I want my daughters to follow in my pedal strokes and discover the joy and freedom that the humble bicycle brings. To start our first daughter on her way to cycling independence we gave her a balance bike early for her second birthday. She loved it, but as I’ve written before, two years later, there was no quick and easy transition to a pedal bike.
In due course our youngest daughter inherited the balance bike. As before with her big sister, she loved it. The problem, if problem it really is, is that she still loves it.
For her fourth birthday we gave our youngest daughter her own bike. We knew we had made mistakes with her sister’s first bike, so invested in a smaller, lighter and all round better made bike. It didn’t make a jot of difference. Sure, on her birthday, when she came downstairs and saw the bike, waiting for in the lounge, she was thrilled. But will she ride it? Absolutely not. Getting her to even sit on needs intensive cajoling. Once on she’ll let herself be pushed along to a landmark, usually a feather stuck into the ground placed about ten metres away. Then it’s a lightning fast cyclocross dismount and she’s off to ride her balance bike. She zooms around on that, lifting her feet in the air and freewheeling around, loving its lightness and freedom. Asked why she won’t try to ride her new bike, she tells us she doesn’t like the pedals!
So, balance bikes haven’t provided the simple progression to pedal bikes, for either of our girls, that we had hoped for, but as I’m learning that’s a fair summary of parenthood. Although it hasn’t worked for us, I don’t think balance bikes are a bad idea. The one our girls have shared has given them hours of pleasure and for that reason alone, it has been a good buy. Our oldest daughter is riding now and thinks it’s one of the best things ever. She’s right of course and our youngest daughter will, in her own time, see pedals really are better too. Still, if you’ve got any tips to hurry her along, I would love to hear them!