Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Old Student, New Tricks and Quack-Quack!

Last December, I went to Evansville, IN, to spend Christmas with family. It was a good ole time. The highlights of the trip included a visit to see some friends in New Harmony and to teach my niece how to ride her bike, safely.
My niece enjoyed the instructions and the challenge so much that she decided to come see me in Irving.  Actually, my niece's parents relocated to TX and they visited us over the Labor Day weekend. It was a lot of fun to get together with family and spend quality time with everybody.

One of the things my niece wanted to do, not surprisingly, was to ride a bike with me. She did not bring her own bike or helmet. So, I bought a new helmet for her and loaned her the Raleigh Twenty. I was hoping to leave home early on Sunday morning to ride, but as it turned out, by the time finished breakfast and left home to hit the trail, it was noon. So, we put on sun-protection and headed out.

It is amazing how easy it is to teach a youngster how to ride safely. It doesn't take a lot. But, it takes some common sense and knowledge of riding in traffic to teach it right. The fundamentals, in all walks of life, are very important.

We didn't have any specific distance goal in mind. We decided to ride as long as we wanted to. It turned out that my niece was quite the rider, for her age. She rode a good 6 miles in all, in spite of the heat. Good job, niece!
On the way back, we found some new duck friends hanging out on the trail. We had to stop and ask them to please make way. The "passing on your left" thing did not work! These ducks reminded me of Duck for President!
After we tried many different ways of announcing our approach, we decided we will walk our bikes very close to them to let them know we really needed their help! Finally, the three duck-a-teers made way for us and off we went pedaling towards home.
It is not everyday, these days, that I have the chance to work with a youngster, who is really interested in riding his/her bike. But, when the opportunity presents itself, I tend to jump at it, as often as I possibly can.

Where did my bicycling fundamentals come from?
My dad drove his bicycle in traffic everyday for many years. At least till I was 10 years old. He rode his British Raleigh Roadster, to the college where he worked, daily. I figure he must have rode roughly 10 kilometers, each way, five days a week. Below is a rough map of the city where my dad worked.

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My dad rode in his work clothes; in a nice suit - comparable to a tweed, possibly! My dad taught me how to ride a bike, not necessarily the vehicular cycling part, but the fundamentals of how to ride a bicycle and maintain a bicycle. Thank you, dad! I miss you.

I learned to ride on my dad's bicycle, which was much taller and heavier than me, at least when I first started learning. My first riding lesson was learning how to balance, which was achieved by leaning the bike correctly and adequately. To practice balancing, I would simply push on the left pedal with my left foot and then simply lift my right foot up off the ground and go until the bike came to a stop. I would repeat this process, until I got tired, almost everyday. Then, one fine day, I realized I could ride that bike by doing the monkey-pedal maneuver. i.e., you insert yourself, somehow into the diamond of the frame and pedal. I didn't get on the saddle and ride it like it was meant to be ridden, until a few of years later.

Final thought
I have had the fortune of teaching many a youngster and some adults how to ride a bike. I do not think I know enough words to express how joyous an experience that is.

Peace :)

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