Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Training Wheels: A Misnomer If Ever There Was One

In a comment to the post below, DarkoV recalls the glory days of "riding at a 45 degree angle, on training wheels." Training wheels were never an element in my past, but when it came to my daughters I indulged them. I even attempted actual "training" with said wheels, by elevating their angle. After a few minutes of watching my daughter honing her 45 degree technique, I figured I'd better avoid the chiropracter's bill and get those wheels back on the ground.

Fortunately, there's a better way to get kids used to the balance of a bicycle. Lower the seat so their feet can rest securely on the ground, then remove the pedals. The kid pushes the bicycle, like she would a scooter, and very quickly gets a sense of its balance. My girls are cautious by nature, so it took a couple of afternoons of this before they got the hang of it. But I've seen other kids master it within an hour.


DarkoV said...

When I was a lad, the training wheels were of a bizarre construction. They tended to be connected to the bicycle in question by Bolts of Humungous Size. So huge were these bolts that no one on the block had a wrench capable of tightening them.
So, the training wheels were rather loosely a part of the bicycle. In addition, the engineer who designed these t-wheels must have been a WW II vet, as the wheels, when loosely attached, had the wingspan of a B-24. When using these t-wheels one literally cleared the sidewalks.
At least on our street, the main reason we ditched the t-wheels and rode w/o support was the continuous row of thorny bushes guarding the sanctity of each home. God help you if the t-wheels tilted too far to the left! You'd end up trapped in the bushes, losing blood at a fast clip. You could always tell when a kid was learning to ride a bike. They either wore long-sleeve sweatshirts and long pants in the dead heat of a 95 degree Jersey summer. Or, they were covered in scars and band-aids. We grew up in the era where pain was not only accepted but proudly worn as scratches and scabs. It was the only way we knew we were getting ahead in that Maturity thing.

DarkoV said...

By the way, I've really been enjoying these last posts that you've written re. bicycles. Just a great vehicle (sorry!) for stories about youth; your own and your progeny.

trentreimer said...

Boy, I really envied my friends with their training wheels. In our family the starter bicycle had a tall-ish frame with a banana seat. I had to ride a tricycle until I was 15.

F.C. Bearded said...

They aren't know as "training wheels" in the Auld Country, but stabilizers.

I'll leave you to imagine what ran through my head the first time I learned that warships have stabilizers too - and let me just say that, sat as I was with my apprentice feet hanging over the stern - the effect of disabling them was utterly bike-like.