When I was 5 or so, my dad tried to teach me how to ride a bike without my training wheels. I get on a helmet, climbed on the bike, and tooled around while my dad held the back of the bike. Then, we gathered some speed, and he let go.
After one disastrous crash into the neighbor's mailbox, I declared myself a "training wheels for life" gal. I tooled around with friends, rode to the corner store with candy, and just generally did fine riding my bike with those two extra wheels. Somehow, I even escaped teasing from the neighborhood kids.
All might have continued that way for quite awhile, but my older brother got it into his head that I really needed to know how to ride a bike properly since I was in second grade and all. But I'm a stubborn gal, and I don't take directives well. Instead of ordering me, he made up a fun game, and he said only those without training wheels could play. The game involved hanging a ring (made from a plastic cup, if I remember correctly) from a tree that hung over the street. Using wooden dowels, we "jousted" and tried to snag the ring.
Of course, since I'm a bit of a wuss at times, I wasn't ready to let my dad teach me again. I still remembered the blood from the previous attempt. My brother taught me to ride. We lowered my seat, and my first instructions were to walk around while sitting on the bike. I believe he called it "goose legging" or somesuch. At some point, I was able to put progressively more room between strides. Then, he told me to goose leg down a little hill near our house. Once the bike picked up speed, I couldn't even walk anymore, so I just held my legs up, balanced, and somehow figured out how the pedals worked. We did lots of "jousting" that summer.
This story came into my head this morning as I was reading last week's Newsweek. The whole issue is centered around green topics, and one of them is teaching your kid how to ride a bike. The process my brother used is almost the exact same as the directions in the magazine! And, let me tell you, they definitely work: