We’ve previously talked about how Boo and Mark started cycling together with her sat in the trailer but it was inevitable that she would want to be an active participant in their cycling adventures so when she was two (Christmas 2006) we gave her a balance bike (there are a lot of versions of these available now and it is possible to remove the pedals if your child is starting to learn to cycle and too big for a balance bike).
She felt the need to test drive it as soon as she opened her gift but we realised that there wasn’t the space in the living room, and that a long skirt and ladybird slippers do interfere somewhat with the efficiency of a bike.
Our plans to let Boo test her balance bike were thwarted by bad weather, and family commitments, until finally we made it out in February 2007 and off she set.
I’m afraid I do not remember why she only wore one glove, or why that glove was clearly far too big for her, as she definitely possessed plenty of pairs of gloves even then!
Obviously Boo felt the need to test the balance bikes off-road capabilities and how well it handled puddles. This was probably the only time she didn’t push through a puddle at speed.
It didn’t take long at all for Boo to build up her confidence on the balance bike so we ensured that she wore her helmet every time after her first ride. Luckily she and the bike were very stable and soon our walks around town were accompanied by a high speed scooting Boo (it fitted under a supermarket trolley). There is a hill between us and Boo’s nursery and she used to scare me by zooming downhill, and even occasionally managed to balance with her feet on the handlebars! We had to make a rule about not doing that on a hill to ensure that I didn’t spend too much of her early years with my heart in my mouth.
Boo’s ‘Like-a-Bike’ came with a basket so she often had a passenger as she headed out for a scoot.
It wasn’t long before Boo and her balance bike were inseparable so it travelled with us to visit family and friends, and even on holiday so she could keep up with Grandpa.
Just one year later she was big enough, at age 3, to progress to a bike with pedals. Mark researched our options carefully and selected a bike from Isla Bikes that came with a rear brake that Boo could use by pedalling backwards so we didn’t have to worry about her lack of grip. Having learned to balance and steer with her Like-a-Bike it was a lot easier for her to learn to pedal (and brake) and it wasn’t long before she was selecting her pedal bike over her ‘motorbike’ (the nickname Boo gave the balance bike because she felt that she could move really fast on it) for rides.