Ask Your Father- It Is Just Like Riding A Bicycle

Half Wheeler "is a kids bike that hooks u...

Half Wheeler “is a kids bike that hooks up to an adult bike to help teach kids to balance” – San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rules of the blog are pretty simple. Tell a story. Make sure it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Have fun telling it or at least try to.

Sunday afternoon is a day that I will remember because it is the day I fixed my failure as a father. I know, some of you are utterly shocked that the guy who calls himself the Original Dad Blogger has failed at anything parenting related but it is true.

I have. I did. I fixed it, or at least I fixed one thing.

I taught my children how to ride a bike.

They Finally Learned How

My children have owned bicycles for years but until Sunday afternoon neither had been able to ride without training wheels.  It made me a little bit crazier than I normally am.

I started riding a bike at 7 and never stopped. I rode my bike everywhere. That bike represented freedom and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can remember the day I learned how to ride and a million days that came afterwards.

When my oldest was born I walked with him in my arms and told him that one day I would teach him how to ride his bike and we would ride together. Yet the little man made it all the way to 11.5 without knowing how to do it.

It felt like a failure on my part. It felt like I didn’t follow through on a promise and it bothered me, but at the same time it wasn’t entirely my fault.

A Different World

My children have grown up  in a different world than the one I did.  I started walking to school when I was six years-old. They haven’t ever done this. In large part it is because we lived too far away for them to walk so they were driven there.

Most of their classmates were driven to school as well. The neighborhood isn’t filled with kids walking to and from school like my childhood home was.

Our old house was in a neighborhood where children didn’t play outdoors. It wasn’t because it was unsafe it was because almost no one went to the local public school. They all went to private or magnet schools.

After school was done they all were driven to soccer or baseball practice. Or maybe mom took them to piano/karate/art lessons…by car.

In my day (old man that I am) we would finish our homework as quickly as possible and then ride our bikes to the park and 7-11. We were outside as much as possible. Being indoors often felt like punishment.

Freedom was outside.

They Didn’t Care To Learn

My kids didn’t care about their bikes. They didn’t see them as being tools they could use for freedom. They didn’t see their friends riding bikes so they didn’t care about learning. It was something they said they would do one day.

I didn’t push. I thought about it, but I didn’t.

Periodically I would see kids riding or hear stories about kids I knew who were riding and I would feel like I had failed the kids in this area. I decided that I had to fix it.

My children fooled me. I wanted to fix it but before I came up with any sort of plan they decided they wanted to learn.

We spent several hours outside and they figured it out. I couldn’t have been prouder of them.

I took my bike out and rode around the neighborhood with them and discovered I don’t ride very often, My legs are sore.

This aging thing sucks. I play basketball every week. I exercise frequently and yet my freaking legs hurt.

What happened to the boy who could ride all day. Don’t answer that because I know.


I am not just proud of them but excited. Don’t tell the kiddies but I just found another way to keep them from sitting on their butts. I love the video games. I play them too. Give me the Wii and I’ll beat you in bowling, but the exercise is too important to mess around with.

Frankly it is too important for both them and for me. Now we can do it together. The bike means freedom. I can’t wait to ride with them again.

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  1. charlieandsheba July 31, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Yeah Jack, But I value my bones more! Funny though, I can roller skate (dating myself here)! Have a good one.

  2. Vidya Sury July 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Gosh, we have a bicycle and I never use it. My butt hurts in a pinchy way when I ride it. I much prefer the large cushioned seat of my um..scooter. Oh, but I’ll never forget the tremendous sense of freedom I did have when I hired a bike, when I was ten – and could zoom down the road, to land in a bush. The scratches did not matter. My son is definitely not interested in riding one. I mean, he can, but he wont. Sigh. The times, they’re a-changing. 😀

    • TheJackB July 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      Vidya Sury A good seat and a proper fit for your bike make a big difference in comfort. It sounds kind of goofy, but it is true.I can’t speak to Vidor but what did it for me here was simple. My children have friends who ride all the time so they didn’t want to be left out.

  3. charlieandsheba July 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Hey Jack, Well I never learned how to ride a bike, created some ackward social moments for me too. Never thought of blaming my dad, he was busy working two jobs. I survived. Never doubted how much my dad loved us. Sure your brood feels the same.

  4. vanitacyril July 30, 2012 at 5:02 am

    you’re doing better than me Jack.because we can’t park bikes outside and i’m not dragging them up two flights of stairs to our 3rd story apartment, my 4 year old doesn’t have a bike yet. and though the teens know how to ride they don’t have bikes either. so i’m sure they’ve forgotten. i have never been on a bike. never. nor do i know how to swim.

    • TheJackB July 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      vanitacyril I don’t about better, different maybe. If we lived in a place that required dragging them up and down stairs I might not have been so gung ho to teach them.But I have got to tell you that being on a bike is awesome and swimming, well that is simply cool. Did I mention that I was on the swim team in high school?I have spent hours in the pool and the beach- love the water. That my friend is definitely something worth learning how to do.

  5. CrossBetsy July 30, 2012 at 4:37 am

    HA! My little James just learned to ride a two-wheeler, and I missed it! I’m with you about freedom. My kids still make me nervouse when they take off to parts unknown! I have to get a bike so that I can keep up!Couldn’t resist sharing! Just found on Pinterest…

    • TheJackB July 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      CrossBetsy That picture is awesome. I’d ride that bike, but then again I used to ride my bike on virtually anything.Are you going to get a bike?

      • CrossBetsy August 1, 2012 at 1:47 am

        TheJackB Yes, I am. Before I drove a car that’s how I got around. Distance didn’t matter. If I needed to get somewhere I knew that I could. I think it’s practical to have a bike in case of emergencies when you can’t get gas, or when your car dies. Might take longer, but you get in shape at the same time.

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