Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Learning To Ride A Bike

If you know somebody, big or small, who doesn't know how to ride a bike, I have some advice for you. This is not original advice, but I like to think that's what makes it good advice. It's the sum of what I've learned in working with people, big and small, watching them wobble and doubt and become bike riders.

Step one: Forget the words "It's Easy." It's not. Not for the person who doesn't know. It's hard. Remember when you learned to walk? No, you don't (unless you've got a really, really good memory). You were a tiny kid and a lot of your brain had to get engaged in the work of learning to balance and move your legs and shift your weight and all of that. You learned by trial and error. That's not easy. It involves trials. It involves errors. But babies do learn to walk. That doesn't mean it's easy, that just means it can be done.

Step two: Kindle desire. While it is important not to minimize the effort involved in learning to ride a bike, it is at least as important to the joy to be found in two wheeled travel. The slim volume Franklin Rides a Bike does a great job of explaining to anyone, regardless of age, that while learning to ride bike is a challenge, riding a bike is great fun.

Step three: Don't use training wheels. The main action in Franklin Rides a Bike involves Franklin ditching his training wheels. Training wheels actually inhibit acquiring the key balancing skill required to ride a two-wheeler.

Step four and beyond: Stop reading this and check out my pal David Mozer's site at:

The techniques described there work well David has done an awesome job of explaining things.

Riding a bicycle is a wonderful thing and learning to ride is a once in lifetime milestone.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Ray said...

Taught both of my kids using this technique. They both grabbed a hold of it in 2 days. On day 3 they asked for their pedals, and VOILA! Off they went.. (My son was 3 years, 1 month old when he mastered a 2-wheeler.

It's sad that I see 8-11 year olds that don't know how to ride a bike. I learned at age 4 and have been riding ever since.

Chris said...

I actually *DO* remember learning to ride a was about 25 years ago now, maybe more, and it involved a lot of falling and quality time w/ my dad in the parking lot of the library balancing me on my bike until I could finally balance on my own. It's been a long time since I've ridden a bike though, although over the summer I did get a new folding bike - since I'll be able to take the train with it, I hope I'll be able to get back into cycling, or at least, like I have been doing, riding to the office a few days a week.

Apis said...

Growing up where I did was splendid insofar as it required I learn to ride on grass & dirt as there was no close pavement. The road we lived on wasn't "paved" (even then it was chip-sealed dirt) so my trial and error period was spent rolling down the gentle slope of our yard where falling was presumably less painful.

It was at least more car-free.

Anonymous said...

I really believe that if you don't know how to ride a bike you miss one of the exciting things that life has to offer...

so have one bike at home and ride on your free time or try renting one for trial (

Good luck!