Are you one of the 94 percent of American adults who knows how to ride a bike? Do you know that you are a mathematical marvel, a scientific superstar?
We’ve been told for decades that riding a bike is easy, however the reality is that when it comes to staying upright on two wheels, there is nothing more complicated, according to the Daily Mail.
The writer Catherine Hess puts it this way:
How in the world do we manage to propel ourselves, constantly rocking back and forth with the movement of our legs, on two wheels; simultaneously navigating movement on multiple planes while trying to avoid countless obstacles?
It’s amazing when you consider that riding a bicycle actually involves more physical and neurological processes than driving a car.
Bike riding is also a sensory whirlwind. Hess says it involves the continuous use of all of an individual’s sensory capabilities – visual, vestibular (balance) and proprioceptive [the awareness of one’s body and limb positioning].
Scientists from Holland, the USA and Nottingham have even devised a mathematical formula to explain this complex task: Inertia forces + gyroscopic forces + the effects of gravity and centrifugal forces = the leaning of the body and the torque applied to the handlebars of a bike.
Or put more simply: If you don’t pedal fast enough to keep moving while keeping the bike straight, you fall over!
Now that you know these facts, is it any wonder that individuals with developmental and/or physical disabilities experience difficulty when learning to ride a bike?
If you are a parent of a child who is struggling with this skill – take heart. I am here to tell you that there are many people and products out there that can help you navigate this challenge and get your child out riding. With a little research it won’t take you long to find out what you need. The world of adaptive cycling is a crazy quilt of options that are as bright and beautiful as the riders themselves.
Here’s some advice to get you started:
- CONSULT your child’s physical or occupational therapist at school or in a clinic. These professionals will have a good knowledge of your child’s motor skills and will be a great resource for helping you find a therapy program or piece of equipment that is right for their level of functioning.
- REMEMBER to be patient and persistent. Similar to any other skill that your child has mastered, it will probably take them longer than most to get the hang of it.
- RELAX – its’ summer. Get your bike out of the garage, air up the tires, and get out there and enjoy yourself with your family!
And as for the math behind my message? You don’t need to be a scientist to figure out this formula:
Parents + Children + Bikes = FUN!
Colleen Berlingieri is a Mom, & Disability Advocate . She lives in Plymouth Michigan with her husband Tony, her two sons, (Geo & Jake ), & their rescue dog Andi. Their family owns the FATWHEELS brand that makes adaptive training wheels that enable individuals with balance issues to ride a typical bike. Colleen’s dedication to raising her family & empowering individuals with disabilities is her life’s work and the driving force behind her company & all that she does.