Thursday, February 28, 2008

mo' better bikes

Erin's bicycle learning has been decidedly slow, but steady. Her bike was really cheap and really heavy and she usually peddled so slowly that she never really even got the bike properly balanced. Mostly, she'd lean to one side as she rode and her training wheels kept her from falling over. She did that so much that the training wheel on the favored side started bending, and finally it bent so much that it was useless and I had to remove it, but she wasn't close to being able to ride her bike without training wheels either.

I decided that, instead of getting replacement training wheels for this bike that was chosen entirely for the Princess Barbie adornments rather than function, Erin needed a better quality bike. Lighter certainly. And you only get lighter with better. Yes, I know other kids get cheap bikes and learn to ride them just fine but Erin is struggling and her bike really is very heavy, heavy than my or John's mountain bikes, so if we can help things along with something better, why not.

So we went to a local, nice, large, family cycle store with the girls to examine some good bikes made by name-brand american bike companies instead of the probably lead-based paint decorated, made by Bangladeshi children type bikes like Santa brought her a year ago. Bad, bad Santa.

While we were there, sizing up Erin and trying to convince her that even though these bikes weren't pink and lacked sparkles and princesses, they would still be fun to ride, Kate and Allison were all over the little 12" demo bikes. K & A haven't had an outdoor ride-on sort of anything of their own yet. We told them this was going to be a purchase for Erin but they were so, so excited to see and try bikes that were just their size. So, we decided to get a smaller bike for the twins to "share" knowing full well that this concept may never get off the ground and we might be back for a third bike in the very near future. Yes, we were suckers. Erin's bike can be passed down to them at least. But this bike, well, it is a Trek, so we can probably sell it when they have outgrown it.

Stupid, or evil, parents that we are, we made this whole bike store trip and purchase on a rainy day so when we loaded the bikes into the car and drove home we had to squash all of the girls' enthusiasm for bike riding that day.

A couple of days later it was clear skies and while Erin was at school I took the twins out front to finally do some riding.

Allison kinda got the hang of peddling, for brief periods. But she watched her feet most of the time and didn't seem to grasp steering at all so she would drive herself straight into the curbs over and over.

Kate also watched her feet almost all the time, but she understood peddling even less than Allison and, ever the contrarian, persisted in trying to peddle backwards and would just not be convinced to try the other direction. So that first day she went no where, ever. After pushing her and letting her feel the correct foot motion she immediately returned to peddling backwards, thus stopping, as soon as I let go.

Riding lesson for the day concluded.

Today I took all 3 girls out after school. Erin took off like a champ. The enormously lighter bike was quite a bit easier for her to deal with.

"See, Erin, it's those high-maintenance, heavy princesses who were weighing your bike down before. I'm sure glad we got rid of them!"

No, I didn't really say that, but I wanted to.

Allison did even better with peddling but she still didn't have any of the whole watching the road ahead and steering concept yet. Kate only tried backpedaling a mere 70% of the time. I think that third bike is going to be necessary sooner than later. Which ever twin wasn't riding was pouting and whining full-time, and often, very helpfully, standing right in the way of the one who was on the bike. If only they could peddle better, and faster, and steer, that inclination could be cured pretty quickly.

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