Home > Community, Events, General, Recommendations, Sports and Extracurricular Activities > Its as easy as riding a bike….. what?

Its as easy as riding a bike….. what?

Why is this a saying? It’s a particularly misleading one because it insinuates that anyone can do it. It made me buy James a red Power Rangers bicycle when he was 5 and add training wheels. And he could do it – surprise, I bet you didn’t think I would say that! He was slow-moving, but he rode that bike up and down the street in Columbus, OH, and even around the block when I was feeling extra patient. We had a Dairy Queen about 2 blocks away – ask James about riding his bike to Dairy Queen and he can tell you the whole tale including what he got off the menu, even though it was 5 years ago.

Then we moved to Virginia, and lived on a hill. Not a huge hill, but a hill big enough for a little bike to pick up speed. And James was not so little anymore, but the training wheels had not grown with him. When he got on his trusted steed, those training wheels got bent to hell, the bike tipped side to side, and it went somewhat faster than he expected. I’m sure you can see where this is headed. From that point on, Ryan and I fought the slow but  inevitable slide into bike hell. I assure you our road was paved chock full of good intentions.

If anyone asked James if he could ride a bike, James would say, “Oh, yes, I can ride a bike. I have a red Power Rangers bike and I can ride all the way to Dairy Queen.” But at home, when it came time to ride the bike, James would get off at the first sign of a tilt, even if we were holding on. This evolved into full screaming wars on the bike while we shouted promises of “not dropping” James as he pedaled down the driveway. Then, he didn’t even want to get the bike out anymore. Then, we gave the bicycle away and moved to NYC.

Today, James seems very interested in learning how to ride a bike. We have healed enough from our past bike trauma and feel that we are ready to embark on this journey once again. These days James is 5 feet tall and 125 lb, so he will need an adult bike. I have been researching adult-sized training wheels to fit a standard bike and have had some success, though the training wheels for special needs people are $$$, running over $100 for the wheels alone. The ones that seem to be the “brand name” are Fat Wheels, is anyone familiar? I hate to start investing hundreds of dollars into something James might give up on in 5 minutes.

Then, as I was researching training wheels in the wee hours of the night, I stumbled across an organization call Lose the Training Wheels.  Here is a snippet from their website, http://www.losethetrainingwheels.org:

The mission of Lose The Training Wheels™ is to teach individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two wheel bicycle and become lifelong independent riders. This achievement, in turn, creates a gateway of opportunity, helping them gain assurance and self-reliance in many other aspects of their lives.

A Brief History of Lose The Training Wheels™

Our adapted bicycling program had its genesis in the more than 20 years of research of Dr. Richard E. Klein and his students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Richard retired from his academic career at the University of Illinois in 1998 and the first bike camp was held in 1999 in LaCrosse, WI. In the ensuring years, Dr. Klein and his wife, Marjorie, invested a significant portion of their lives in growing the program to three fleets of bikes and approximately 30 camps in 2006.  Today Dr. Klein and Marjorie are principals in Rainbow Trainers, Inc.

In January 2007, a small group of parents, therapy professionals, and business leaders formed Lose The Training Wheels, Inc. as a not-for-profit organization which was recognized as a tax exempt public charity in June of 2008.

The Lose The Training Wheels™ bike program has grown from one camp and one fleet of bikes in 1999, to 50 camps across the U.S. and in Canada and five fleets of bikes in 2008. The impact of learning to ride a bicycle and our high level of success in helping individuals with disabilities accomplish this feat continues to drive demand for our camps and fuel our growth. We anticipate that over the next 5 years we will grow to more than 100 camps in at least 5 countries.

 

They do these workshops and camps all over the country, and the closest one to us is in Hoboken, NJ this July. I already emailed the contact from the camp and am anxiously awaiting her response, though I don’t supposed she is up at 3a.m. to answer my inquiry. I would also love to find an agency that would be interested in sponsoring a workshop here in the city. There is a whole bunch of info on sponsorship on their website, http://www.losethetrainingwheels.org.

Has anyone had any experience with this organization? They claim to have an 80% success rate. Does anyone have experience with the Fat Wheels or other tricks that worked when teaching your special needs child to ride a bike? Our main issues are low tone and high anxiety. I’d love to see a conversation about this in the comments section, and will also update this post once I hear back about the riding workshop this summer.

I would love to have some family bike rides this summer, even if they don’t stop at Dairy Queen.


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  1. Melissa
    April 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    As an adult (age 36) who is attempting to learn how to ride for the first time, I am frustrated. I can only imagine that your struggle to find an option for James is doubly so! Good luck to you, and here’s hoping James and I will both be bicycle riders soon!

  2. Rachel
    April 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

    You might contact the folks here:

    http://www.bikenewyork.org/education/classes/learn_to_ride.html

    And if you have a bike, try them first. They are not specific to special needs but may be a more local experiment.

    Rachel 

    • April 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Thanks for the link – will definitely look into this option, too. Local is always good when dragging children around!

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