Living on a gravel road means when you want to ride a 2-wheeler, it isn’t easy. You see, we live on a flat portion of the road between two hills, and everyone seems to fly by. They’re eager to make up for lost time before they slam on their brakes at the hill.
But, fast cars and gravel roads lead to washboarding. And riding a bike on a washboard is hard, especially if you don’t yet know how to balance. There are just too many bumps and loose rocks to deal with.
So learning to ride a bike on the road just doesn’t work out here.
How My Kids Learn to Ride 2-Wheelers
When my kids are interested in learning to ride without training wheels, we walk across the street to my mom’s. She has a lovely, grass-covered hill in her yard.
It’s the perfect training location! I’ve used it for three kids, and am just starting to teach Sydney.
Benefits of a Grass-Covered Hill
We have plenty of grass in our yard, but no hills. Here’s why the hill works best:
- It’s easy to build momentum
- Kids don’t have to try to balance AND pedal at the same time
- You can really feel gravity pulling you to one side or the other, making balancing more intuitive
- It’s softer to land on when you fall
The brain can only concentrate on so many skills at once. As kids are trying to learn to ride, it’s really difficult to master balancing while also focusing on steering and pedaling.
Putting them on a hill eliminates the need to pedal. They can hold their feet straight out, and learn to balance.
Then, they can put their feet on the pedals. Eventually, they’ll instinctively start pedaling as they start slowing down at the bottom of the hill.
My Step-by-Step Process
It typically takes a couple of practice sessions before the kids are ready to ride on our rough roads.
The first day is all about overcoming fear. They learn how to try to prevent falls by putting their feet down and standing, and how to get back up again after a fall.
I have the child sit on the bike at the top of the hill, with their feet straight out. Then I give them a gentle nudge down. Gravity works, and the child and the bike travel down the hill.
I praise all attempts at balancing, and encourage them to keep trying. After the bike and rider are back on top, we do it again. It’s not long before they can kick off on their own like this:
Falls are met with a hug and a word of encouragement. I let my kids know I believe in them and their ability to do this.
We try to end the session after a good run, instead of after a fall.
The next time we practice, I have my kids put their feet on the pedals and try. Sometimes they aren’t quite ready, so we do another few runs with their feet out.
We try several times, and usually the child can make it all the way down the hill and come to a standing stop.
Next we add in the pedaling component. After a few sessions on the hill, the child is typically ready to try riding on the road. They’re confident and ready.
How Do You Teach Your Kids to Ride a 2-Wheeler?
The grassy hill has been a tremendous help for my kids as they learn to ride a 2-wheeler. I’d love to hear what method you use!
Do your kids enjoy biking? Mine are always eager to ride bikes and scooters!