Monday, June 27, 2011

"I Was Just Looking at Your Bike"

So I was out on a ride near Colombia, Md the other day. I was waiting at a red light at the intersection of Little Patuxent Parkway and Cedar Lane. I had positioned myself to the left of the right lane, and checked back to see if the car behind might want to be turning right. In fact, it was, so I moved over a little bit more, and she thanked me as she turned. I looked back again to see what the next car was doing. No blinker, but the bmw moved closer to my rear wheel, and was behind me but kind of next to me. I wanted to be sure this person knew I was going straight, so I motioned straight ahead with my arm. The driver, a man (a woman was in the passenger seat) rolled down his window so he could tell me, "I'm sorry, I was just looking at your bike." The light turned green at that moment, and I went ahead. As they passed waving and smiling, he gave me plenty of room and a friendly honk. I'm pretty sure he was sincere with his comment, not joking or trying to be funny. This isn't the first time a stranger has complimented one of my vintage fujis (this one is the fuji royale ii, blue with gold ukai rims). Like I say, there is something special about them, and obviously I'm not the only one to think so.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How to Teach your Child to Ride

My daughter is 3 1/2 years old.  She is riding her bike now, and never used training wheels.  Here is what I did:

1.  By 2 years old, I bought her the skuut bike.  At first she walked along side it.  I resisted the urge to sit her on it immediately, realizing that she needed to get comfortable with it.  When she dropped it and worked to pick it back up, I realized she was learning some very basic principles of how it balances even then.

2.  I made myself a scoot bike.  I needed to be able to show her what she could do with it, since she wasn't able to talk yet.  Also, I was kinda jealous of her new ride, and it looked like a lot of fun.  We would ride together, and play chase, and have the wheels kiss, and whatever else we could think of to have fun.  I would also find lines for us to ride on to practice straight riding.

3.  Pedaling on a tricycle.  Pretty soon we were scooting to our local bike shop.  While we were there, she wanted to ride a cool little tricycle they have.  That is how she learned to pedal.

4.  Power Pedal Technique (No Wimpy Pedals!).  It wasn't long after that, that it was time to start on her 'real' bike, the 'blue bike.'  I had a handle attachment that comes off the back.  I could help keep her upright with it, but I did not use it to do her work for her.  I used it as a safety net.  She still had to keep her bike balanced properly (make sure the feet can still touch the ground while seated).  At this point, she was able to talk and understand basic instructions.  So I talked to her at the same time as showing her.  She learned to get a pedal up for a good take off push with her foot.  Once she was rolling, she was riding, because she already had her balance from the skuut bike.  Again, I did not use the handle to do her balancing for her.  I would keep my hand hovering around it, just to be there to help alleviate a fall.
5.  Braking.  The next step was teaching her how to back pedal for the brakes.  To help with 'on the spot' braking, I set up a small kid size stop sign, at which she had to stop directly next to, and look for cars.  Actually, I had been implementing that since she started with the skuut bike, so she was used to stopping, but not as much with the new way of braking.  It didn't take long before she was able to brake on her own, and keep upright while coming to a stop.

Now she is riding on her own, and doing very well.  There are plenty of new bike experiences to come, and she still has alot to learn about riding, but it is exciting to see her naturally lean into a turn, ring her bell as she rides all the while smiling and laughing and having fun.  

Here is a link to our first scoot bike ride together.  Even though she is not wearing her helmet in this brief video, she always has it on when we are outside.  She has been wearing a helmet since she was 1 year old and riding with me in the bike trailer.  She loves wearing it, and is quick to remind me if I forget mine!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Note To Considerate Drivers

We all know there are inconsiderate, and down right mean, car drivers out there.  However, some are quite considerate as well.  Sometimes though, their consideration doesn't always put or keep us cyclists in the safest situation.  For instance, the other day as I was about to make the left turn into my subdivision, a car coming the opposite direction stopped  and waved me across.  I didn't blindly accept their invitation though, and good thing too.  The driver behind them was beginning to veer to the right so that they could pass!  If I had not been aware of that possibility and watching out for that person, a disaster could have potentially occurred that would have left my kids fatherless and my wife husbandless.  

I'm commenting on this because I wonder if the considerate driver may have ultimately been confused and even offended at my hesitance to just go when they were waving me on.  I want/wish that they realize why I behaved the way that I did.  As a cyclist, we are one of the most vulnerable users of the road, and we can not be vigilant enough with our thoughts and actions when it comes to our own safety.  Even those who think they may be helping us to be safer can inadvertently put us in a compromising position.  

Be aware out there, be safe, and good luck!