I can still remember the day I learnt to ride a bicycle, a gift from the Big Man in the Red Suit, way, way back in time...Xmas Day 1968...at the ripe old age of 5.
No training wheels for me. Dad wouldn't allow it, "you'll learn to ride a real bike without that rubbish" he told me.
It was a big step up from the Cyclops tricycle of the last couple of years, to a big bike....I was SO excited!! another Cyclops, shiny blue frame, nice chrome wheels, dark black tyres, and the obligatory handlebar streamers...woohoo!
Perched at the top of the "hill", at the door to Dad's Shed, looking excitedly at the clear run down the side of the house, leading to the front yard..(a distance of about 50yrds on a slope of about 4 degrees)... "remember" Dad said with a smile, "those back pedal brakes.... pedal backwards to get it to stop" That's the only lesson I was given.... pedal backwards to stop... Ok, can't be too hard.
A few shaky turns of the pedals with Dad jogging beside me, keeping me upright for the first few yards... before I knew it I'd hit the ground just before collecting the front fence....Well I had stopped... splayed out on the grass and gravel
Missing a bit of skin and bawling my eyes out, Dad walks down and just said "cut that out" "wheel it back to the shed and try again" I remember enjoying something about that first effort, that I did as he said... amid sobs.
Dad and I took off again, this time I mastered the backpedal brakes but also managed to pedal a bit and stay upright when I stopped. WOW that was great! No invitation was needed to make further attempts to master this, I was thrilled at the feel of movement, high off the ground (16" wheels are HUGE to a 5 year old) tentative pedal strokes, and even managing to 'turn AND pedal' at the SAME time...
I must've cycled 2 miles in that yard before 9 a.m.