A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned in his Facebook status that he’d just “taken the training wheels off of [his kids’] bikes,” and it made me gasp. One of his boys is a few years older than mine, but his middle child is the same age as my own son. I felt a moment of shame because I had not yet even purchased a “big boy bike” for my 5-year-old, never mind taking the training wheels off. I was slippin’. When I was 5, I had been learning to ride a bike on this little purple hand-me-down from one of my uncles, but Justin was still pushing a big wheel/tricycle hybrid he’d gotten for his birthday when he was 4.
So, finally, I rectified the situation this past weekend by rolling into to Toys R Us and picking out a red Schwinn. I stayed away from getting any Diego or Pokemon-themed bikes because he may not be interested in them a year from now, and we needed something that could grow with him. The Schwinn was a nice racing red with blue trim and we got a matching bike helmet (safety first). We packed the pre-assembled bike into the car and drove out to Brooklyn, where he was having a sleepover with my folks. When he first came down the stairs, he ran right past the bike to give me a hug, not realizing it was his. As great as it felt to know that I was more appealing than a new bike, I turned him around and said, “Justin that’s YOUR bike,” and his eyes widened as he smiled from ear to ear.
After securing his Pikachu helmet (hey, we had to get SOMETHING Pokemon) he took his first bike ride on his two-wheeler. The gears were still stiff so it took a bit of effort on his part at first. His feet would slip from time to time. When he pedals backwards, it’s not like the old bikes with coaster breaks that stop – they just keep spinnin’. Shin guards may be the next accessory. The sidewalks in BK were unforgiving with their cracks and bumps, so my dad and I took him to nearby Wingate Field and let him loose on the track. I lost a good two pounds trailing him in a power walk. Dad supervised from the sidelines.
After a few laps, he’d already given his bike a name (Bikey), and insisted it needed a bath when we got home. He complained to my wife that his legs hurt, but was ready to ride it back home to Queens. We’ll keep practicing and hopefully have the training wheels off by his birthday in December.
Now I just have to teach him how to tie his shoes.