Wow. You raise and nurture a child, and this is the response you get.
I took the training wheels off my daughter's bike a few days ago.
The speed at which she learns is amazing. She's only been on the bike w/o training wheels five or six times but she's basically self-sufficient already. When I took the training wheel off I separated the lessons. We started with me helping her start and stop, just focusing on learning to balance. Then next ride I told her how to stop, and the ride after that was how to start on her own. I give her a little lesson and pointers and then she just goes, it's amazing how fast she picks it up.
I know she's at that age where the brain is plastic and is genetically designed to learn fast at that age, and I realize that she's within age-appropriate capabilities so it's not like she's an off-the-scale genius or anything. Yet I still get a nice feeling of parental pride watching her go.
It's interesting seeing her personality. She was riding on the track near our house a few evenings ago. It was the end of a warm day so there were a lot of families out walking and enjoying the relatively cool temperature. Sofia is riding around and she passes a little boy (a year or two younger than Sofia) who's sitting on a bike with training wheels.
The boy starts pedaling and catches up to her. The boy passes her. She proceeds to put the hammer down and passes the boy. Boy pedals like hell and closes to within a bike-length or two, but can't clinch the deal.
Those two little kids were moving! It was hilarious watching both of them, heads down and little legs spinning circles as fast as they can.
Next year she'll probably be ready to ride the Sunday Parkways so we'll give that a try. I'm enjoying it while I can. She'll be kicking my ass on the hills in a few years and I won't be able to keep up on the flats a few years after that.
Some rules for encouraging new riders (not mine, these are from Dave @ River City Bikes in Portland):
- Leave them wanting more! In regards to importance, this should be the first three points. There is no quicker way to discourage a new rider than to take them out on too long of a ride, when they aren't nearly ready for it. Their bottom will hurt, their legs will hurt, and they will not have fun, or want to go again.
- Stay away from hills. There will be time later when you can start teaching them how to do hills comfortably, but do as little as possible until they have built some fitness and confidence.
- Never, ever, say 'hurry up! or try to get them to draft, or imply in the least that it is much less of a ride than you are capable of. Have them in front, especially on any hills.
- Mix in ice cream stops, coffee shops, stop at any scenic spots you can, encourage them to drink and eat regularly.
- Try to find them someone who they can ride with who is at their own level. It is super important for people to experience all the levels and mini-triumphs of biking at the pace they are comfortable with. It's too easy for experienced riders to forget how much of an accomplishment a 25 mile ride can (and should) be.
- Introduce them to organized rides. Don't try a century first! (see #1) There should be shorter alternatives that are very social, plenty of food stops, and they will ride with a vast array of cyclists, some of who are likely slower than they are. It will be a big confidence booster.
This evening I got back from a ride, I was still sweaty in my bibs & jersey. I had promised her that we would go for a ride when I got back so she asked me if I wanted to ride with her. Heck yeah! So we had our first ride together.