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A Tale of Two Sons: Transition to Pedal

Guest Blog by Tammy Billings

My husband and I have two boys, who are sixteen and five years old. The transition to a pedal bike without training wheels couldn’t have been more different. 

Strider, with their no-pedal bikes, turned our youngest son into an instant, bike-riding success story.  They taught him balance… which is really the key to riding a bike.  They gave him the confidence of a big kid, when he took off without training wheels, on the Big Boy Bike.

Here are their stories…

Frustration with the Oldest

When our older son was a preschooler, we bought him a bicycle for his birthday that had training wheels and a giant superhero shield on the handlebars.  He rode it everywhere we went, until he was simply too big for it any longer.  With an upcoming birthday, we bought him a bigger bike, and my husband and I spent an entire weekend devoted to Operation Learn to Ride.  We held the back of our son’s bike seat, and took turns jogging beside him, as he wobbled back and forth, and tipped over more times than either one of us could count.  We may have thrown our hands into the air repeatedly and declared, “He’s NEVER going to get this!  He’s going to be the only college kid on his campus who can’t ride a bike!” 

By the end of the weekend, we all high-fived one another, admired our well-toned calf muscles from all the running, and proclaimed our son to be a proficient bike rider.

We went to work on Monday morning, to rest and recover.  We had jogged beside that little blue bicycle for what felt like three consecutive marathons, before the wobbling and wrecking turned into a smooth, balanced ride.

New start with the youngest

Years later, it was time to buy our second son a tiny bike.  Some friends of ours recommended a brand called Strider.  My husband and I had never heard of Strider bikes before.  We were a little skeptical about the fact that these bikes… um… HAD NO PEDALS. What kind of bike didn’t have pedals on it?Tammy blog photo cropped 

Our friends insisted that their sons had skipped training wheels altogether, as they’d gone straight from their Strider bikes to big-kid bikes.  So… we bought one.  It was tiny and blue.  Our two-year-old loved helping his dad unpack the bike’s parts from the big birthday box, so they could put it together.  Once he sat down, he was completely smitten with it.

I still scrunched my brow and thought, “Is this even a REAL bike, without the pedals?”  But… he loved it, and off he went.  He was thrilled and content.

For the next three years, our little man rode that blue Strider.  He put enough miles on it to circle the globe twenty-seven times.  His balance improved so much, he was like a little mountain goat riding that bike. 

He could cruise along the sidewalks faster than his friends, who were using bikes with pedals and training wheels.  A few moms asked me, “Do his tiny little legs get tired on that bike?”  They didn’t seem to. 

He was so fast on that Strider, he became known as the Neighborhood Blur.

When he turned four, his grandparents bought him the Big Boy Bike. It was bright orange, with pedals.  It had training wheels.  He tried it out, and he liked it… but he couldn’t go as fast on it as he could on his Strider.  The training wheels created entirely too much drag, and his race times were flailing.  He gave up the Big Boy Bike, to go back to his Strider.  Faster is always better in our boy’s mind.

When he was four, we traveled through the Black Hills, in South Dakota,  and stopped at the end of the trip at a mall, where we saw a bunch of tiny little Strider Bikes set up on a race course.  We knew we had a long car ride ahead of us, so we told him to grab a bike and go.

He did.

As soon as he took off… like a fired shot from the starting line… the attendant said, “Um… He has one of our bikes at home, doesn’t he?”  Yes.  Yes, he did.  Our preschooler whipped through the Strider race course there in the mall like a professional.  He was given a little yellow ribbon when he was done, which he carried with him FOR WEEKS afterward, until it was crumpled and crushed.  He was as proud of that little yellow ribbon as an athlete is with an Olympic gold medal.

Youngest transitions with ease

This spring, our little man turned five.  I told my husband that we should take the training wheels off his Big Boy Bike, and give it a go, as soon as they were done raking some leaves around our driveway.  We have good friends who have a little girl who is four and a half.  She had just learned to ride her Big Girl Bike the previous weekend, after two years on her pink Strider.  She was the tiniest, cutest thing ever, riding a real bike without training wheels. 

After the previous, difficult experience with our older son, we psyched ourselves up for another weekend of running alongside our boy, helping him to balance and learn to ride.

Fifteen minutes later, my husband came inside and I asked him if he was ready to dismantle the training wheels.  He replied, “Yeah… I already did that.  He took off riding.  He did great.”

I was stunned.

The training wheels came off.  Our little boy, who had just turned five a couple of weeks earlier, sat down on the bike… and he pedaled off into the sunset.  There was no running beside him. There was no holding his Big Boy Bike, while he got his balance figured out.  Because that balance part?  He’d been doing that all along on his Strider! 

We had no idea that it was going to translate into him not needing his parents to help him ride a bike without training wheels!  He really and truly got on that big bike… balanced it like he’d been born doing it… and rode off down the street.

Strider saved us from an entire weekend of jogging beside a little bicycle, while we held onto the back of our son’s seat.  Strider took a parenting tradition away from us, which parents have been doing since the invention of the two-wheeled bike.  We wanted to clap and throw confetti everywhere!!  Our only regret is that our sixteen-year-old son had never gotten the privilege of owning a Strider bicycle. 

Difference a Strider Bike makes

Strider, honestly, makes learning to ride a bike simple.  They make kids immediately feel good about themselves.

Thank you, Strider.  We have recommended your bikes to every parent of young kids we know now.  Our friends with the four- year-old daughter said she learned to ride her Big Girl Bike the exact same way. 

Her mother even boldly said that Strider Bikes should be a standard gift for every baby shower thrown!  I couldn’t agree more!

Well done, Strider.  Well done.

Tammy blog photo 2


Tammy Billings

  Guest blogger: Tammy Billings is a mother of two. You can find additional musings at her blog

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