March 08, 2010

Pedal driven, human powered, single track vehicle.

Bicycle, I got to teach Connor how to ride one. That makes me three for three (woot!). Connors tutorial was very academic for me, due mostly to his autism by way of my earlier lessons with the older two.

We had two sessions. The first one, I'll call 'inner ear training', was learning that he can balance and pedal, turn and stop. Knowing how to set up the pedal to take advantage of that downward stomp, pushing power, is paramount. I find that working with Newtonian law is pretty difficult when starting out. We also had him 'walk' the bike while seated then glide to get the feel for balancing. After 10 minutes or so he was done and so we headed back home.

The next day I opted to bike ride to Burger King. This is a familiar route, we have taken many times, on the swing bike (kind of attachable tandem). Connor was quick to understand this familiar theme. Although he did keep asking if I was taking my grey bike.

When we arrived at the park (which is quite nice and quite large) I went over a few of the same lessons and we set off. Me jogging\walking and providing physical and emotional support. His ability had already jumped up from the previous day. I figure his muscle memory recall had taken over. We had several stops and starts with various degree's crashing, as expected. None were too bad. I was waiting for the inevitable big crash.

I noted he began to lean against me to ease the process. My response was to change sides. This was actually a good sign that he learned how to shift his balance. Around the five minute mark into the trip he put it all together and started riding. We covered some 100' to 200' long sections before going off trail. Around the third or fourth of these 'excursion' to the immediate right of the paved path, Connor was able to correct course and get back on trial by himself. He had that wobbly over-steering going on that is both amusing and dangerous to someone running alongside. I got to test my dodge a few times. While turning is something that we need to gain confidence on. The pedaling and general riding teaching was mastered. He did stop everyone on the trail to call attention to his being able to ride. People seemed amused and a bit later down the trail as we met two ladies a second time. The requested to watch his newfound prowess and heaped accolades. All good things.

We did have the bad crash. A sign pole over by our Wal-mart built wetlands (reclaimed). Like most poles to new riders it appeared to exert a some kind of attraction force and yanked him directly towards it, faster then I could respond, He let go with one hand and that was all she wrote. He went down pretty hard on his left knee. He had a bit of crying, which means quite a lot of pain was involved, Connor is not given to histrionics. He did not break skin and he was able to walk around without favoring or new pain.

Then the most important part. He got on the bike and continued. While I am not sure why this happens the way it does, it always happens. It strikes me as infinitely valuable in life, after crashes, you get back on the bike.

By the time we made it to Burger King Connor was riding very well. We took the road through the VA (also in the park) on the way back and I spent the bulk of the journey running.

It was a very good day.


flyingvan said...

Great story, and well written account. "Getting back on the bike" is one of the most crucial life lessons. Now you gotta build a velodrome around the trampoline

keeka said...

Congrats on great Dad-skills! Carl still hasn't taught our kids to ride. He tried a couple of times, but doesn't understand the fear factor in our children. He gets frustrated and gives up. Not a good thing. I pretty much relegated that work on him being the dad and all, and this summer I may have him try yet again. They unfortunately do not really have an interest in riding a bike, which makes it that much more difficult, especially since I would probably not let them ride around our neighborhood. It is too dangerous. Cars and motorcycles zoom around and don't always look around for kids on bikes. But, still, I would like them to learn.