Riders of the Asphalt Circle

I’m not really sure how I learned to ride a bike. I vaguely remember it. I do know that the red-head demon of sister a year younger than I learned before I did and that spurred me on to learning.  I know the maxim that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget. That seems to be true even with a brain tumor and the complete loss of my left side vestibular nerve and function.

For Christmas I bought bikes for the grandelves that came to live with us a year ago this month. Unfortunately, doing so meant that I would be the one to teach them to ride. As I had taught their father and their uncle.

I’m not sure how I survived the first two times as these boys are wearing me out. I also don’t know how one teaches someone to ride a bike, or to do anything that for that matter, that requires finding an inner balance. I use a lot of instruction, coercion, and fussing, followed by a lot of push, let go, and pray the boy remembers how best to fall.

It works. L1, the oldest at 12 learned first. I was kind of surprised by that since L2 (7) is the more physical of the two. But learn he did and has done pretty well.

L2 is almost there. Today he made several short trips, including some very fast downhills with non-injury dumps. He is very good at jumping off the bike. He was very verbal though, explaining that I “was putting him under too much pressure.”

Shut up and pedal, kid.

Pressure is getting email from a president with a cc to your boss, praising your work and pointing to it as validation of his efforts, and then saying to yourself, “I hope to God I got it right.”

One the very first day of bike lessons, I taught the boys how to fall. Sending them quickly downhill into the soft grass of the front yard. Learning to fall well and enjoy the experience, using similar techniques to Army jump school and hand-to-hand combat techniques, is fun all by itself.

When I teach people to code, I do much the same thing. I guide them to certain types of errors, such as infinite loops and try to teach the ways to fail gracefully.

I hope, that by the end of the weekend, the bike lessons are at an end and we can focus on just riding. The length of the High Bridge Trail awaits L1 and me this summer or fall. Followed by biking in to camp at False Cape State Park. His uncle was about 12 when he and I did it.




Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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