Dec 4, 2012

May the Balance be with you

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(Daddy pedals)

One of the life skills that I had longed to equip my 2 boys with is to ride a bicycle. I certainly do not want them to follow in my footsteps, where I had learnt how to ride a bicycle at age 18 and hilariously demonstrated how to ride oneself into a longkang (or drain) on my first attempt.

But truth be told, the wifey and I had not been adequately disciplined enough to bring the boys outdoors for them to master their balance on a two-wheeler. And being the impatient bugger that I am, I find myself getting terribly frustrated when they can't seem to get the hang of it after hours and hours of failed balancing.

So imagine my joy when I found out that I could outsource and leave the teaching part to the professionals!

Singapore Bike School is the first dedicated cycling school in Singapore that offers lessons for all ages and all levels. Besides learning to ride a bicycle, the school also offers several other programmes which cover all educational aspects of cycling – from beginner to advanced skills training in BMX, Downhill (DH) mountain biking and Cross-country (XC) mountain biking, as well as bike maintenance.

But let's just start from the basics, shall we?

When I broke the news that they will be learning how to cycle to the boys, I half-expected them to protest vehemently. But to my surprise, they were more than game for it!

The 'Learn to ride' programme consists of two 1.5 hour sessions and it is recommended to pick dates that are closer together so that the kids will be able to recall what they learned in the first session.

Coach Kenneth, who is also Bike School's founder, is an experienced cycling coach who holds qualifications from world cycling body Union Cycliste Internationale as well as the Singapore Sports Council. And it was through him that I found out one of the gravest mistakes that most parents - including me - are making when it comes to kids' bicycles.

If you have a bicycle at home with a set of training wheels on, ditch the extra pair of wheels NOW. Unfortunately, that is THE wrong way in teaching a kid how to ride a bicycle. With the extra pair of wheels, a kid's body will attempt to lean the opposite direction whenever he/she makes a turn. In addition, the kid will need to turn the bicycle handle fully in order to make the turn. And this is where it differs from cycling on 2 wheels.

On a 2-wheeler, one just need to slightly lean towards the direction of the turn and the bicycle will make a gentle turn. Much like how a motorcyclist negotiate turns. Coach Kenneth told me that this is the key to mastering one's balance on a bicycle. If a kid has grown accustomed to a four-wheeler, then he/she would require a greater time to un-learn the riding associated with it as well as to gauge his/her balance on a two-wheeler.

In fact, we parents would do well to provide our kids with those pedal-less 2-wheel bicycles instead. That will be extremely useful in aiding them to master their balance while coasting on a bicycle.

We do have a 4-wheeler at home, but we got too lazy to bring them out on the bicycle so it has been dutifully collecting dust for some time now. So thinking like a sloth do help sometimes because the moment Ash got onto to the pedal-less bicycle, he found his balance almost instantaneously!

He then immediately clamoured for the pedals to be fitted on, and this is what happened.

He cycled! On a 2-wheeler! Finally!

After all the past hours I had put in to teach him to cycle, Coach Kenneth had managed to achieve the outcome in 30 minutes. Man, I feel like a twerp.

Ayd, on the other hand, was facing a tougher time in balancing. I suspect he was more fearful whenever he had to lift both legs up, which resulted in his entire body being extremely tensed. But credit to him, this block of ice never gave up and he persisted in trying to find his balance throughout the session.

And he did get better.

While Ash was busy enjoying his new-found freedom on two wheels.

The second session took place 2 days later, and by this time Ash was raring to pick up new biking skills!

Ayd too, was equally determined to master his balance so that he can pedal together with his kor-kor.

The one thing that I love about Ayd is that he rarely gives up. Motor skills-wise, he may be a notch lower than his elder brother but he makes up for that with his tenacity and resilience.

I just love that look of determination on his face.

And what do you know, his efforts did pay off in the end. He managed to master his balance and pedal before the second session was up! But he does need to work on his starting-off-to-pedal though.

As for Ash, he was taught drills for turning, stopping, riding with one hand and even standing while pedalling.

I think the boys did thoroughly enjoy the 2 sessions. I know I did, especially seeing how they have managed to cycle - without me getting overly flustered and frustrated.

The two 1.5 sessions start from $240 for 1 student, with bulk discounts applicable for larger groups (Click HERE for more information). And I highly recommend it. Why risk bursting a vein when one can leave the coaching to a trained professional?

Everyone emerges happier from it I reckon. :)

Now all we have to do is to polish Ayd's riding skills, and we can go on a cycling outing together as a family! Well, Ale still has to tag along on a bicycle child seat... for now.

For more information, visit Singapore Bike School's website or Facebook page for more details.

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