Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tour de Will

A few months ago I wrote about Will's progress in the bike-riding department. With a good shove-off from Tom, Will rode on his own - without training wheels - for about 10 yards. We were thrilled, and so very proud of him.

But after that day, the progress stopped. Completely. Will begged us to put the training wheels back on his bike, and when we refused to do so, he refused to ride. The one time we convinced him to try again he could barely go five feet without falling off the bike and bursting into tears.

We were all frustrated, so we just backed off, at least temporarily.

A few weeks later we were over at Natalie and Caroline's house and I saw the girls riding a glider/balance bike. I asked their mom, Erin, about the bike and she gave it rave reviews; apparently it had helped Natalie graduate from her training wheels in just a couple of months. And since Natalie and Caroline had really already figured out the bike-riding thing, Erin offered to let us borrow the bike.

When Will - and Hallie, for that matter - first gave the glider a try it was clear they both had zero balance after years of riding tricycles and two-wheelers with training wheels. It was kind of ridiculous, actually, how unsteady they were - they looked like newborn foals, attempting to balance on their own for the very first time. But both Will and Hallie kept riding the bike, and they LOVED it. So much so that the fights they've had over who gets to ride it and when will most certainly go down as some of their most vicious.

Grandpa Paul and Grandma Brenda came to visit when Will had been riding the glider for about five weeks. Grandpa mentioned he'd never seen Will ride his bike, so Will, Tom, and Grandpa headed to the park to give the bike a try. (Will was reluctant and less-than-enthusiastic but willing because he didn't want to let his grandpa down.) About 15 minutes later there was an urgent banging at the front door. It was Grandpa, and all he said was, "GET YOUR CAMERA AND COME OUTSIDE!".

When I reached the street I didn't see anything worth taking a picture of, that is until Grandpa pointed up the street and then waved his arms in a "ready, set, go" motion. At that point Will started down the three block-long hill leading to our house...without training wheels. Tom ran - actually he had to sprint to keep up - beside Will, shouting words of encouragement and making sure Will remembered to use his brakes. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. And terrifying, seeing as Will was really cruising and wasn't yet an expert at using the brakes.

The view from our house to the top of the hill.  Will started
biking on the near side of the farthest telephone pole in the
center of the shot.
Tom can't quite keep up on the steepest part of the hill.
Here they come!
"Don't forget to use your brakes, Will!"
Almost there...
Look at that smile!
Three days later Will learned how to start off on his own, and two days after that he learned how to stop without falling off. This video was taken at the park in Lincoln, Nebraska, just two days after Will truly learned how to ride.

This weekend we went on two family bike rides - each at least four miles long - with Will riding his own bike and Tom towing only Hallie. Tom said the rides felt leisurely, what with 45 fewer pounds to tow. Our second family bike ride took us past the skate park, and now Will has decided he can do tricks as well.

We still have a ways to go as far as bike safety and the rules of the road are concerned, but there's no going back now. Will is officially a bike rider and I am officially the biggest balance bike supporter around. (Hallie's still riding the balance bike, and has gotten to the point where she can coast downhill without putting her feet down for 5-7 yards at a time. Her improvement is impressive.)

He rides! And this time it's for real.

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