Ronia has not been digging her bike trailer. While she is apparently the envy of every adult we pass, she longs to pedal under her own steam, to be cushioned from the unavoidable potholes of our hilly neighborhood. She doesn’t understand what the rush is, why I can’t simply ride slower or allow her to take her own balance bike (a bike scooter hybrid with two wheels and no pedals) wherever we need to go, whether we have 10 minutes to get somewhere or are heading across town.
So I sold her on the concept of the trail-a-bike, those magnicificent mutants I first glimpsed while contemplating fatherhood. This seemed to be the best of all worlds: Ronia could pedal, or not, and we would get there in time. I allowed myself to think that I could even take our amalgamated bike on public transit.
I secured the money from Ronia’s grandparents, avid cyclists who enjoy helping their granddaughter along, and headed to our local bike shop.
As we had them bring down the trail-a-bike, a sense of foreboding kicked in. Ronia is a lanky 4-year-old, so much so that she uses, “as long as my legs,” as her default simile. However, trail-a-bikes are tall. The bike clerks were patient… but firm. She was too short. I offered to buy one anyways, but they didn’t want to take my parents’ money for something that would sit in our garage.
Tears welled up in Ronia’s eyes, and I got the sense she was bravely trying to hold back sobs. How about a bike with pedals? Our eyes saw it at the same time: a pink bike with streamers, training wheels, and “Wild Flower” written on it. Perfect. I bought it, and Ronia rode out, thrilled but frustrated by how hard it was. She could not steer or pedal effectively, and I had to bundle her into the hated trailer along with the bike. But she persisted, and can now make it. She hasn’t learned to brake yet, stopping the bike by putting her feet down as she did on her balance bike. “Please stop talking about it,” she says when I nag her. But she can ride, and even asks for the trailer on occasion.