A Real Cycling Workout

Julia decided, since the sun had risen in the east or something, that today was The Day to take the training wheels off her bike. Being pretty interested in hastening the glorious day of the first family bike ride, I acceded to this request right away.

Little did I know that I should have followed this simple act with six ibuprofen tablets, a cortisone injection, and a shot of whiskey.

Julia and I actually had a lot of fun getting from our house to the park a couple blocks away, tooling around the paved path at the park, and riding back home. In fact, we did this twice: once for a short ride in the morning and then again for a longer one in the afternoon. Vivi rode along with us on her little red (training-wheeled) bike – meaning, usually, that she was about twenty yards ahead of us and pulling away. She’s a regular Fabian Cancellara: all power.

Julia and I, on the other hand, went more like a tugboat than a steamship. True to her personality, she was very tentative about the entire experience, though she was helped along by the fact that she’d asked me to remove the training wheels. So long as I had one hand on her seat and one hand near her handlebars, she was fine.

So that’s what I did, walking next to her as she moved steadily and slowly along. I did pull my hands away a few times to show her that she’d already gotten a pretty good sense of how to maintain her balance, but this worried her more than it pleased her, so I stopped doing it – at least so obviously. By the end of our last lap around the playground, she was (unbeknownst to her) regularly getting about ten pedal strokes of distance on her own before I’d have to correct her direction or get her back in balance. Not bad for someone who, last summer, would have a screaming meltdown at the suggestion of a bike ride. Today, she said more than once, “This is fun! I’m so proud of myself! I love riding like a big kid!”

I was pleased by all this, and I’m 98% looking forward to our next try for two-wheeled solo riding. I can’t say 100% because oh my god does guiding a newbie rider on a kid’s bike do terrible, horrible, no-good things to one’s back and hamstrings. When we pulled into the garage at the end of the afternoon outing – after probably 30 or 40 minutes of cumulative time helping Julia – I finally stood up straight, which elicited vertical bars of holy shit running from shoulder blades to knees and a horizontal bar of what the hell along my waist. Seriously: I was nowhere near as agonized from skiing either the City of Lakes Loppet in February or my 50k Oakebeiner tour in March. I guess it’s true: raising kids is the toughest thing you can do to your body.

Since that unpleasant moment, I’ve taken four Advil, and I plan to chase this here DQ Blizzard with a little whiskey. I should be back to full strength by morning – and ready for Monday afternoon’s try to get Julia biking on her own.

2 thoughts on “A Real Cycling Workout”

  1. I remember when I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. (Wow, right?) We borrowed knee and elbow pads, and went to a local soccer field. My mother would help me get started, then stopped. I went until I fell, then tried again. It was all about getting started, thats where I got all my help.

  2. I might try to get Julia to ride on grass, if she gets tired of the pavement. When I asked her about it yesterday, she told me that she didn’t want her (pink) bike to get dirty.

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