And so it begins...
Ronan has been asking to ride a 'big boy bike' for months now - we've told him that when he turns three we'll start teaching him on a bicycle with pedals. We knew that balance wouldn't be too difficult for him to master given he's shown excellent stability (and an appropriate amount of courage) on his push bike.
Try number 1
I was adamant about not using training wheels - every time Ronan tries a bike with them on he crashes clumsily (either catches a training wheel or cuts turns too sharply). I've also seen too many kids struggle to re-learn how to ride after their training wheels come off. That's why we kept Ronan on his push bike for an entire year rather than start him on a pedal bicycle with training wheels. We assumed that once we started teaching Ronan on a training-wheel-less bike it would take a month or more for him to get the knack of pedaling and coaster braking.
Learning to lean, and the art of turning
It turns out that it took Ronan four minutes to be riding on his own. He must have been doing some training at school on the tricycles because his pedaling seemed just fine for a newbie. Ronan's braking is still a bit awkward (he likes to try and skid the rear wheel) and stopping-without-falling-over is an issue as the seat is not low enough for him to touch the ground with both feet. He still falls half of the time he stops but he's getting more used to it.
Happy about making Mom work for it
The real doozy is getting started. When he's clever, he knows to point the bike downhill as he needs just a bit of speed to get enough stability to jump on and start riding. Sometimes he even positions the pedals so as to get the necessary torque for takeoff. A couple of times he just improvises- we dropped off a loaf of bread at a friends house and Ronan simply stopped his bike by riding up to and (sort of) gently leaning against her concrete garden wall. This meant he could stop without tipping over and he was able to start back up again without assistance.
Getting the hang of it
The bike he's learning on is an ~12 years-old hand-me-down from a work colleague so it's both heavy (sturdy!) and has a fair amount of slop in the pedaling. It's a perfect little thing to learn on and Ronan seems to love it. After watching how quickly Ronan picked up riding a bicycle I cannot say enough good things about push bikes being a great place for toddlers to start.
Becoming more stable
Ronan is terribly proud of himself (and he should be)... he rides around telling people he's, "on a big boy bike" and rings his bell at pedestrians to say, "Hi!" If there are other cyclists in coming down the road toward him he'll yell, "Hey! I'm just like you!" My biggest worry is Ronan's focus on people he tries to engage rather than objects in the road (e.g. parked cars).
Ronan's patented "go straight, look to the left" riding style
Mom and I (Nieve too!) are also terribly proud of Ronan - as much as we want to pat ourselves on the back for being wise councilors on his road to riding, we know it was all Ronan's determination and courage that got him riding. Chapeau, Ronan!
Pedaling off... happy riding!