Teaching my boys how to ride their bikes was an important step in their childhood. Watching them take their feet off the ground and pedal until they found their balance was as exciting for me as it was for them. What is it about a bike that makes a child feel independent like an adult and conversely make an adult feel like a giddy little kid? It's the bike that can take each of us to a different place. A place where one feels free and independent.
A child puts their fingers on the handlebars and takes off. Away from mom and dad they find an independence they didn't know before, one where they have complete control. Mom and Dad get on their bikes and forget the bills, the pressures of their jobs, the illusion of perfection and they are free.
So what about the years in between those first pedal strokes and the moment an adult straps on a helmet and decides to give a bike another try? Is there still a place in children’s lives for bikes when more often than not, bikes are abandoned for more traditional team sports.
If you drive by a park in the fall you’ll see hundreds of kids playing soccer or a school gymnasium in the winter to see a crowd of kids getting ready for a basketball game, but where are the kids on bikes? Team sports have many benefits like teamwork and comradery but put a kid on a bike and they learn what they can accomplish all on their own. After all, doesn’t true confidence come from knowing what you can handle and accomplish within your own power?
Melissa Davidson from Singletracks magazine says about kids on bikes versus other sports, “Every student on the team gets to race at every event, if they want to. There’s no sitting on the bench if you’re not as good as someone else. You are not trying to “beat them out” for a starting position on the team. There’s no waiting for the offense or defense to get off the field so you can have your chance to play.” Riding bikes is a sport any child can enjoy and build confidence without being the” best” one on the team.
Building confidence can come from racing or riding trails in the mountains with your family. Get on a bike and no matter what adventure takes place, the opportunities to build skill and talent will emerge. The bicycle riding gap in life’s middle years doesn’t have to happen as riding bikes can be an alternative to team sports, one that can bring health, independence and confidence throughout a lifetime.