Screen time. The bane of modern parenting. A constant source of parent-shaming and guilt. Look, we know you love your kids. We know you are doing your best. Let’s skip the low-grade anxiety attack that often comes from regurgitating facts and figures about the effects of too much screen time. We all probably have a pretty good grasp on the fact that an exorbitant amount of screen time isn’t the best for our children. Instead, let’s commiserate in the struggle, remind ourselves the importance of time spent outside, examine our own relationship with screens, and, in the end, lavish ourselves and each other with compassion. Parenting is hard, and ultimately, we all want happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.
Chapter One: The Fight
The screams reverberate down the hall, through the walls, out the windows, and transmute into echos throughout the otherwise quiet neighborhood. It’s not the opening scene of a horror movie. You’ve just told your eight-year-old screen time is over. Dun-dun-duuuuun! You aren’t just up against the screaming, the pleading, the bargaining, the crying, or the fits of rage either. Once you’ve managed to pry that device out of your kid’s death grip, they mope, snark, and continue to beg for “just a few more minutes.” Then the same thing happens all over again the next day. It’s no wonder that most parents admit to struggling with enforcing rules or time limits, even though most experts agree that doing so is vital for your child’s digital wellness. Yes, we have now have yet another “wellness” to manage.
Look on the bright side. Although having to monitor your child’s screen time is a modern parenting task, relentless fighting with your offspring is not. Hooray? Just ask grandma Norma. It’s easy to blame all the conflict on modern technology. It would be nothing but laughs, love, and happiness if it weren’t for that blasted iPhone and everything that came after, right? Take heart; parents have been sparring with children over bedtime, chores, and curfews since the beginning of time. The fighting comes with the territory, and we must choose our battles wisely. In the end, sticking it out is often exactly what those little boogers need most. They don’t believe it now, but as adults who enjoy nature and making real connections, they’ll thank you.
Chapter Two: Green Time vs. Screen Time
Parents, let’s renew the battle cry, “go play outside!” We promised to refrain from an onslaught of facts and statistics, but some just can’t be ignored. For instance, children only devote 4 to 7 minutes a day to unstructured outdoor play, yet, they spend more than 7 hours a day in front of some kind of screen. A mounting culmination of factors are working against our kids getting outside to play, and this is impacting their health, attention, and mental wellbeing. Even the use of antidepressants in pediatric patients is on the rise. Screens aren’t helping our kids feel happy and connected. But do you know what does? Bikes!
A lot has changed for kids growing up today, but one thing remains true. Bikes are fun, and kids love to ride. Those two wheels are the perfect anecdote to the screen time woes. If you can, spark your children’s love of riding as early as possible. Get them used to reaching for a bike, instead of an iPad. With Strider Bikes, kids can ride as soon as they can sit up, and with any luck, their love of bikes will equal or surpass their reliance on screens. Getting kids outside to play and ride doesn’t just nurture their bodies, but also their minds and spirits. In their article, Whole Child: Developing, Mind, Body, and Spirit, the Be Out There National Wildlife Federation sums up just a few of the benefits of more time playing and riding outdoors:
Creative: Playing outside inspires and requires an active imagination.
Smart: Children who spend time outdoors learn to work as a team. They score higher on assessments of cognitive ability and standardized tests.
Calm: Research shows kids’ stress levels fall within minutes of being outside.
Kind: Being outside helps create compassion and improves social bonds.
Happy: Play protects kids’ emotional development, letting kids be kids.
Healthy: Riding and running around outside helps maintain physical health, including more vitamin D, to help build strong bones and prevent disease.
Oh, and more great news, the same goes for you! As parents, we can use some outside time too. Going on a family bike ride is so much more than just that. And maybe every once in a while, our screams of frustration to pry screens out of children’s hands will morph into shrieks of excitement to go for a bike ride together.
Chapter Three: Your Own Devices
The “do as I say, not as I do” parenting tactic tends to fall flat. We know this, but putting down that phone is hard! Screen time isn’t just causing children to disconnect, compare themselves to others, and reduce physical activities – adults are susceptible as well.
On a good day, having children around inspires us to be the best version of ourselves (we’ve all had plenty of bad days too!). We can model how to disconnect from the screen and reconnect with nature and each other. What’s good for your kids is good for the entire family. This could be a great opportunity to reset everyone’s habits. After dinner or this weekend, instead of reaching for your phones, grab your bikes and go for a quick ride. Even a little ride goes a long way. But, let’s be real; the screen withdrawal period can get nasty. You’ve already managed to tough out a few fights. Make sure you have plenty of good snacks and stay strong.
Chapter Four: Harness Compassion
We’re all just trying to figure it out in this fast-paced digital world. Raising children with this amount of technology has never been done before. We are the parent pioneers! Every family has its own way of handling it. If you have been a parent for more than two minutes, you already know, someone out there does it differently and will not hold back about telling you why. Some days it feels like beliefs and ideas around screen time is just another way parents are pitting against each other. Being judged for the way you are parenting is a deep cut because, most of us, everyday, worry that we aren’t doing it quite right. When someone blatantly (or subliminally) tells you that you’re messing up, it’s hard to stay confident and not wallow in “I’m a horrible parent” pity.
You know what you don’t hear enough? You are doing a great job! Really, you are. You know what you need more than a list of all the things you are doing wrong? A little compassion from all the other parents you are surrounded by. None of us are perfect. It’s usually the neighbors who figure that out first when they hear you yelling at your kids or partner in the backyard when you thought they weren’t home. So let’s come together and shift our parent shaming energy from each other to keeping the pressure on tech companies to help protect our children online. Show your fellow parents some compassion with a gentle smile or a commiserate pat on the back.
Chapter Five: Good Luck Out There
Buckle up; this screen time struggle isn’t going away anytime soon. It looks like forcing your children to go outside and play is part of this parenting gig now. Hopefully, their kid instincts will kick back in, and they’ll grab their bikes, cruise around, laugh, and experience the freedom and joy that comes with two wheels. Maybe you’ll be inspired to put down the phone and join in the fun too. As your children grow into amazing adults, they’ll certainly remember some of the fight and struggle, but largely, the fresh air, adventure, and stubborn love you have given will stand out the most. You are doing a dynamite job!
When Ryan was six months old, his mother, Jen, had a feeling something wasn’t quite right. “He was growing, but his strength was not,” Jen reflects. With twenty years of medical experience under her belt, Jen went about trying to convince Ryan’s pediatrician that he needed extra attention. It wasn’t until he was fourteen months and was struggling to hit physical milestones that they finally got a consult with a physical therapist.
“I figured they would probably just give us some exercises and tell me what I needed to do to fix it. And then we’d carry on,” Jen remembers. That is not how it turned out. They were shocked to find out that his abdomen muscles never closed and he had no muscle tone in his core. And that was just the beginning.
When Ryan was just two years old, Jen found him unresponsive. They rushed him to the hospital where he would end up being for the next few months while doctors tried to figure out what was going on. On July 15th, 2017, Jen and her husband found out that their baby boy had Glycogen Storage Disease type 9a, a very rare genetic disorder. Ryan doesn’t process the enzyme to convert glucose into sugar from his liver, and if he goes longer than two to three hours without eating his blood sugar drops to nothing. In other words, they found out that day that they have a very sick little boy.
“It was a nightmare,” Ryan’s mom, Jen, recounts. At the time, they lived in Indiana, and they were running all over – from the Cleveland Clinic to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – to try to find help for Ryan. When Jen lost her job on Christmas Eve, and the family lost the home they had just built, she decided to make a bold move. Jen turned to her husband and said, “I’m moving to Florida. Are you coming or staying?” To which her husband responded, “Well, I guess I don’t really have a choice.”
Jen and her family packed up and moved to Sarasota, Florida, where the warmer temperatures were a little easier on Ryan. They didn’t know it then, but this is where they would end up finding a little piece of joy amid their heartbreaking ordeal.
There was a BMX track close to their new apartment in Florida. On Saturdays, Jen would put Ryan in his wheelchair, wheel him to the bleachers, and they would watch the riders. One particular Saturday, they noticed there was a Strider Bike Program, and went to inquire for their daughter who was six at the time. She had numerous ear infections and two sets of ear tubes growing up, which made it difficult for her to balance on her bike with training wheels.
On this fateful day, they met Erma Miller, who runs the Strider program at Sarasota BMX. While Jen’s daughter Olivia did get on a bike, Erma was very interested in what little Ryan could do. Jen tried explaining that Ryan needed a wheelchair because he didn’t have much endurance and he had to carry a backpack with a pump for continuous feedings, so it wasn’t likely he could ride a Strider Bike. But, Erma was persistent! She got a Strider Bike out for Ryan to sit on, and, as Jen puts it, “it was pretty amazing because he just wanted to take off on that bike!” Erma marched into her office, came out with a Strider box, and told them to take it home. “And the rest is history,” Jen states.
Ryan was able to practice riding his Strider in their apartment, where he could stay nice and cool, and he practiced balancing and riding around. Next, they took him to the track and worked with him until he learned to go around the pump track. And just like that, he was riding with the other kids, his feeding backpack and all!
The BMX track organized a modified race for Ryan to participate in, but it didn’t take long before he decided he wanted to join his age group in a regular race. “He starts with them, and he gets last every time. But, you know what, the kid never stops,” Jen says with a proud laugh.
Little Ryan is now a fanatic. They go to the track as often as they can. He gets high five from friends and a community of people who cheer him on. He has gained so much strength from riding his Strider Bike that he doesn’t need physical therapy anymore. “I just take him to the track instead,” Jen explains. As for his wheelchair, he barely needs that either. Ryan’s mom, Jen, is blown away by how much stronger her still sick son is. In fact, when Strider sent them a 14x with a pedal conversion kit, Jen knew he was ready to pedal.
“It was like Christmas morning when the Strider 14x arrived. For both of us,” Jen recalls. They got Ryan geared up and went out to try his new pedal bike. He was reluctant at first, but Jen just knew he was ready, so she was persistent. “You can do it,” she repeated several times. So, Ryan started with feet on the ground and began striding just like he had done so many times before. “It was – stride, stride, pedal – and dude, he took off,” Jen recounts with great excitement.
Two years ago, in the hospitals in Indiana, if someone would have told Jen that her little guy would be riding a pedal bike, she would have told you, there’s no way. Now, she is a Strider Bikes believer! “Every chance I get, when I talk to my friends who have children with special needs, I’m like, dude, you have to get your kid a Strider,” she says.
Even with all the great improvements Ryan has shown, he is still a sick little boy. Last October there were openings in Connecticut with the world’s leading GSD doctor. They called Jen with 48 hours of receiving Ryan’s paperwork to inform her they had been accepted. “When I took him out there, the doctor said Ryan was one of the sickest kids he’d ever seen,” Jen recounts. The doctor apologized for not getting him in sooner, to which Jen responded, “we are here now.”
Ryan was put on lifesaving treatment. So far, it’s okay. But, Jen has a feeling it might not be a long term solution. “He’s doing okay for now. You know, I always tell people every day is a blessing,” Jen states. She can see the future a little easier now, confident that Ryan will see another Christmas and that they will celebrate his fifth birthday, but she is still guarded, and says, “You know, tomorrow is not promised for anybody, and when you have a sick kid, it’s definitely not promised.” Each day Jen is sure to give lots of extra hugs. Extra kisses. Extra fist bumps.
Getting Ryan on a bike has been a significant experience, for both him and his family. It is so much more than JUST riding a bike. On a bike at the track, a sick boy who has seen countless hospitals and had endless tests, get to be just like other kids. The other kids give him fist bumps and high fives. On his bike, he gets to be just like everyone else. Ryan, a once shy, sick, and timid little boy, got on a bike and it changed him. “He has just blossomed,” Jen beams, “He has gained so much confidence.” And Ryan is one determined kid. He wants to ride and keep riding. He’ll set a goal of doing five laps, and when he’s done with that, he wants to do more. “Riding builds confidence. It builds character. I mean, just seeing all the little Strider kids out there, it’s amazing,” Jen says with deep conviction.
Jen’s message to the Founder of Strider Bikes, Ryan McFarland, is, “NEVER second guess what you have done. Strider Bikes are the most amazing thing ever!” And her message to everyone else is, “Strider Bikes are legit. Whether your kids are special needs or not, they’ve got to get on a Strider Bike. They’re the greatest thing since sliced bread!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Cheers to Ryan for his bravery and grit, and cheers to the fierce support of a mother’s love!
Find Ryan’s story on Facebook at #BeBraveRyan.
Life moves fast. You’ve welcomed this new, tiny little bundle of love into your life. You’re tired and red-eyed but managed to get a few loads of laundry done, a couple of dinners cooked, and answered a few emails. Then, suddenly, your kid is turning nine. How does that happen?
The busyness of life can put a strain on your relationship with your kids. Spending quality time together can be challenging. And, let’s be honest, they aren’t always a bundle of joy.
Are you noticing that more of your evenings and weekends are spent shuttling your kids and yelling at them to clean their room or put down their phones than actually hanging out with them? You’re not alone! Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Our suggestion – take a trip out to the shed and dust off your bikes.
At first glance, it may seem like riding bikes together is a simplistic solution to strained family relationships. But, look deeper. Engaging in activities with our loved ones strengthens emotional bonds that are vital for children’s development. Even teenagers! Riding bikes together can offer a marked improvement in family relationships and hits SO MANY birds with one stone. Trip planning, exploring, challenges, laughing, new experiences, exercise, and fresh air are but a few of the emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits of bike riding. It’s so much more than just a bike ride.
One thing is pretty much a given. Your kids will fight you at first. If not, can we have your kids? Push through! It won’t take long before they are trying to hide their smiles and even start looking forward to rolling together. You don’t have to tell them you’re healing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds. Some things are better left unsaid. Here are nine ways to use bikes to bond with your family.
Get to Know Your Community
Traveling by bike offers a unique opportunity to see your local community with a fresh perspective. It is a perfect occasion for children to learn to navigate the town. Make it a point to indicate landmarks, buildings, and crosswalks. This will build confidence when it comes time to commute by themselves, and they’ll be less likely to get lost. On your bike, you’ll end up seeing things you never noticed when driving through your neighborhood. Has this road always had so many potholes?
Practice Setting Goals
Whether it’s aiming for a certain mileage or attempting a challenging obstacle, setting goals can help create focus and encourage your kids to keep going. And, while you’re at it, set a goal for yourself too and let your kids hold you accountable. What an awesome experience to encourage each other to attempt and even achieve your goals, big or small, together. It’s the stuff movies are made of, only it’s your real life!
Choose a Destination
When it comes to getting out for a ride, kids tend to do better when they have a specific goal in mind. Choose a destination and include other non-riding activities. Choose a park, an ice cream shop, a historical site, or even a friend’s house as a destination. To keep kids engaged, include walking around to look at things, hiking to overlooks, or collecting treasures along the way. Even though sometimes it can complicate the process, get your kids involved with the planning. They can help with bike checks, reading maps, keeping track of stats on a bike computer, or packing necessary treats. When that process starts to get tedious and annoying (because – kids), repeat to yourself – family bonding is the goal, family bonding is the goal…
Practice Tricks in the Backyard
Every outing doesn’t need to be a major excursion. Bonding by bike can be as simple as going into the backyard to practice skills or tricks for a bit. See how long you can balance on a bike without putting your feet down. Practice wheelies, then laugh about how hard they actually are. Get a ramp or just put down a flat board and practice riding over. Maybe you try bunny hops or coming to a fast stop. Don’t take it too seriously. Laugh. All the while, both you and the kiddos are building skills that will help build confidence and ensure a lifelong love of riding bikes.
Going on one of those famous family road trips? Take your bikes along! We won’t pretend that getting the bikes loaded on a rack and gathering the extra helmets and tools in addition to everything else isn’t a pain in the butt. But you’ll thank us later. It’s totally worth it. Use rest stops as a chance to get on your bikes, stretch the legs, and wear out the kids so they will hopefully stop fighting. There are a lot of towns that are focusing on creating family-friendly bike trails and paths. Look them up and stop on your way through. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, let the kids take pictures and document the cool bike trails. They might have an interesting perspective. But, maybe get a cheap, durable digital camera. No one wants the trip highlight to be when dad lost it over a broken iPhone.
Explore Local Offerings
Have you ever made good use of what your local community has to offer? Utilize the bike path. Check to see if there are skate parks or pump tracks in your town. These are great places to explore on a bike without having to travel far. Consider it your tax dollar payout in family bonding.
Go For a Jog
Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and clear your head is some good, vigorous exercise. And, let’s face it, jogger strollers make running so much harder. With a Strider Bike, even the smallest of toddlers can scoot along at a decent clip. You can work out a little tension, and your little one can work off some energy. Now, you can use naptime to read a good book (isn’t our optimism adorable). You will be spending time together (other than cleaning their messes) and instilling a love for bikes early. It’s a win, win, win, win.
Head to the Sled Hill
Not every day is sunny, blues skies, and singing birds. Snow comes too, and when it does, we’ve got you covered. Attach the Snow Skis Set to the tires of a Strider Bike. BAM! Snow bike. Head to your local sledding hill and let your kiddos show off their biking skills. For you and your older children, check out bikes with fat tires specifically made for riding in the snow. Snow biking is becoming increasingly popular, and some towns are even grooming trails. Family bonding doesn’t have to hibernate during the winter months.
Participate in Events
When your family loves riding together, it’s hard to shut up about it. Going to bike races and events is the best way to meet other families who share your passion. With Strider Bikes, you become part of a close-knit club. Furthermore, you get access to all the amazing Strider events happening around the globe! The merriest way to bond, not just with your family, but with other families who are as committed to life on two wheels and togetherness as you are. As your toddlers become young adults, you can find races to enter and ride together. We’re not crying; you’re crying!
There are tons of valid reasons your kiddo doesn’t ride a bike. We get it! Life is crazy busy, and you have a lot on your plate. Traditionally, learning to ride a bike has been hard and teaching even harder. Who wants to spend the weekend fighting to get their kid on a bike? It turns out, not many. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, in the last ten years, there’s been a 35% drop in kids riding bikes for fun. Bikes ARE fun, and when kids aren’t riding, they are missing out.
Luckily, Strider has invented and perfected the most simple, effective, and wicked cool ways to get your kids on a bike. There is a complete progression that takes your kid from drooling on themselves to drooling over their bike before they are out of diapers (sorry, we can’t help with potty training though). Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles you face as a parent when it comes to getting your kiddo started on a bike and ways to alleviate the stress.
Obstacle: You don’t have time!
Strider Solution: Of course, you don’t have an entire weekend to dedicate to coaxing your child onto a bike. That’s a lot of pressure. Plus, you don’t have that kind of patience; you’re not a saint! Strider Bikes take the work out of it, we promise! You can start them early. It’s as easy as handing them the bike and letting them get on and walk around. The rest comes totally naturally. Plus, we offer a Learn-To-Ride Guide that breaks down every progression. It’s easy, and you’ll still have plenty of time to get all your laundry done (we know how most weekends go).
Obstacle: You are not sure where to start or how to teach.
Strider Solution: First step, ditch the training wheels! By ditch, we mean destroy (or just throw them in the trash). They are making this bike riding thing WAY TOO HARD. Isn’t the point to have fun? The second step, choose an age-appropriate Strider and download the Learn-to-Ride Guide. We’ll tell you everything you need to know (and that’s not much). Honestly, your kiddo will likely teach themselves.
Obstacle: You live in a place without easy access to outdoor spaces.
Strider Solution: Typical children’s bikes are clunky and heavy with awkward training wheels. Strider Bikes are made to be light and portable enough that even your barely walking toddler can maneuver with ease. Take that thing with you everywhere you want your little bean to keep up with you – the grocery store, furniture shopping, or mall walking. Heck, let them ride in the living room or basement. Now, if we could only figure out how they could bring their bike on a long flight.
Obstacle: You are worried about your child’s safety. Either traffic concerns or hard tumbles on the cement.
Strider Solution: As for traffic concerns, refer to the solution above. It’s worth saying again; these bikes can go almost anywhere. And, when it comes to tumbles and crashes, sure, accidents happen. You can start on the grass or carpet until you are both more confident. Make sure your kiddo always wears a helmet. For extra protection, check out our elbow and knee pads and riding gloves.
Obstacle: Your child prefers a scooter.
Strider Solution: Kids love scooters, and we don’t blame them. Especially the ones with the jet pack (those are real, right?). Both kids and parents tend to gravitate towards the scooter because they are perceived to be easier to learn and give immediate freedom. Don’t be fooled. In the long run, scooters won’t get kids as far or offer lifelong opportunities for riding. And, as you know by now, Striders are easy. Kids master the art of striding, then pedaling, practically without trying.
From new rider to the savants of stride, Strider Cup races truly are for everyone to enjoy. Both beginner and professional will be in the crowds and inside the ropes at our Fort Worth race this Saturday. Luckily one of the pros isn’t there to race – but his son is! Pepe Montano has been a professional race car driver for over 27 years, and this year he is excited to bring his 2-year-old son Mateo to race in the Strider Cup.
Pepe Montano had a long racing career participating in series including NASCAR Mexico and the Grand Am. Now though, he’s taking time to slow down (just a little) and enjoy family time with his wife, Angie, and their two-year-old son, Mateo. While the pace has slowed, it’s just the first lap for little Mateo, who has recognized that racing is in his blood. At only one-year and two-months-old, most babies are still working on walking, but Mateo was ready to ride. Mateo started cruising on his Strider just after he turned one; which means he can officially say he has been racing for over half his life! With a silver 12 Pro and a blue 12 Sport to choose from, Mateo likes them both equally, because choosing from either means he gets to ride. We caught up with Pepe and asked a few questions about raising a little racer:
Strider: I saw you took Mateo skiing recently, how fun!! What are other activities that you hope to share with Mateo as he gets older?
Montano: We love motocross and skiing, but I want to push Mateo to do whatever he loves to do. He will always have my support.
Strider: What does training look like for a 2-year-old?
Montano: We put him on the Strider every time he wants but don’t want to put pressure on him. The good news is that he is on the Strider every day because he wants to be.
Strider: Do you have any advice for new racers?
Montano: My advice for new racers is always be happy about what they do, be disciplined, persevere, and always believe in themselves.
Our passion is inspiring the next generation of riders, and we love when parents support that love of riding with their own children because riding truly does change everything. Look for Pepe and Mateo at the Strider Cup Race this Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. Be sure to give him a high-five, wish him luck, and ring your cowbells for all the riders making waves on their Striders! For more information on the Strider Cup ft. Worth Racing event please visit http://strdr.us/24
It’s our tenth anniversary and we’re giving away ten prizes to Strider parents from around the globe! The 2017 Strider World Strider Day Photo Contest had almost 200 entries from seventeen countries. The randomly selected winners are below, and all of the entries can be found on our Flickr page.
If you see your photo below you will receive an email notification with more information by next week. A huge thanks to everyone who entered…if you didn’t win make sure to keep snapping photos and send them in for the monthly photo contest and the Where Has Your Strider Taken You contest.
Guest Blog by Tammy Billings
My husband and I have two boys, who are sixteen and five years old. The transition to a pedal bike without training wheels couldn’t have been more different.
Strider, with their no-pedal bikes, turned our youngest son into an instant, bike-riding success story. They taught him balance… which is really the key to riding a bike. They gave him the confidence of a big kid, when he took off without training wheels, on the Big Boy Bike.
Here are their stories…
Frustration with the Oldest
When our older son was a preschooler, we bought him a bicycle for his birthday that had training wheels and a giant superhero shield on the handlebars. He rode it everywhere we went, until he was simply too big for it any longer. With an upcoming birthday, we bought him a bigger bike, and my husband and I spent an entire weekend devoted to Operation Learn to Ride. We held the back of our son’s bike seat, and took turns jogging beside him, as he wobbled back and forth, and tipped over more times than either one of us could count. We may have thrown our hands into the air repeatedly and declared, “He’s NEVER going to get this! He’s going to be the only college kid on his campus who can’t ride a bike!”
By the end of the weekend, we all high-fived one another, admired our well-toned calf muscles from all the running, and proclaimed our son to be a proficient bike rider.
We went to work on Monday morning, to rest and recover. We had jogged beside that little blue bicycle for what felt like three consecutive marathons, before the wobbling and wrecking turned into a smooth, balanced ride.
New start with the youngest
Years later, it was time to buy our second son a tiny bike. Some friends of ours recommended a brand called Strider. My husband and I had never heard of Strider bikes before. We were a little skeptical about the fact that these bikes… um… HAD NO PEDALS. What kind of bike didn’t have pedals on it?
Our friends insisted that their sons had skipped training wheels altogether, as they’d gone straight from their Strider bikes to big-kid bikes. So… we bought one. It was tiny and blue. Our two-year-old loved helping his dad unpack the bike’s parts from the big birthday box, so they could put it together. Once he sat down, he was completely smitten with it.
I still scrunched my brow and thought, “Is this even a REAL bike, without the pedals?” But… he loved it, and off he went. He was thrilled and content.
For the next three years, our little man rode that blue Strider. He put enough miles on it to circle the globe twenty-seven times. His balance improved so much, he was like a little mountain goat riding that bike.
He could cruise along the sidewalks faster than his friends, who were using bikes with pedals and training wheels. A few moms asked me, “Do his tiny little legs get tired on that bike?” They didn’t seem to.
He was so fast on that Strider, he became known as the Neighborhood Blur.
When he turned four, his grandparents bought him the Big Boy Bike. It was bright orange, with pedals. It had training wheels. He tried it out, and he liked it… but he couldn’t go as fast on it as he could on his Strider. The training wheels created entirely too much drag, and his race times were flailing. He gave up the Big Boy Bike, to go back to his Strider. Faster is always better in our boy’s mind.
When he was four, we traveled through the Black Hills, in South Dakota, and stopped at the end of the trip at a mall, where we saw a bunch of tiny little Strider Bikes set up on a race course. We knew we had a long car ride ahead of us, so we told him to grab a bike and go.
As soon as he took off… like a fired shot from the starting line… the attendant said, “Um… He has one of our bikes at home, doesn’t he?” Yes. Yes, he did. Our preschooler whipped through the Strider race course there in the mall like a professional. He was given a little yellow ribbon when he was done, which he carried with him FOR WEEKS afterward, until it was crumpled and crushed. He was as proud of that little yellow ribbon as an athlete is with an Olympic gold medal.
Youngest transitions with ease
This spring, our little man turned five. I told my husband that we should take the training wheels off his Big Boy Bike, and give it a go, as soon as they were done raking some leaves around our driveway. We have good friends who have a little girl who is four and a half. She had just learned to ride her Big Girl Bike the previous weekend, after two years on her pink Strider. She was the tiniest, cutest thing ever, riding a real bike without training wheels.
After the previous, difficult experience with our older son, we psyched ourselves up for another weekend of running alongside our boy, helping him to balance and learn to ride.
Fifteen minutes later, my husband came inside and I asked him if he was ready to dismantle the training wheels. He replied, “Yeah… I already did that. He took off riding. He did great.”
I was stunned.
The training wheels came off. Our little boy, who had just turned five a couple of weeks earlier, sat down on the bike… and he pedaled off into the sunset. There was no running beside him. There was no holding his Big Boy Bike, while he got his balance figured out. Because that balance part? He’d been doing that all along on his Strider!
We had no idea that it was going to translate into him not needing his parents to help him ride a bike without training wheels! He really and truly got on that big bike… balanced it like he’d been born doing it… and rode off down the street.
Strider saved us from an entire weekend of jogging beside a little bicycle, while we held onto the back of our son’s seat. Strider took a parenting tradition away from us, which parents have been doing since the invention of the two-wheeled bike. We wanted to clap and throw confetti everywhere!! Our only regret is that our sixteen-year-old son had never gotten the privilege of owning a Strider bicycle.
Difference a Strider Bike makes
Strider, honestly, makes learning to ride a bike simple. They make kids immediately feel good about themselves.
Thank you, Strider. We have recommended your bikes to every parent of young kids we know now. Our friends with the four- year-old daughter said she learned to ride her Big Girl Bike the exact same way.
Her mother even boldly said that Strider Bikes should be a standard gift for every baby shower thrown! I couldn’t agree more!
Well done, Strider. Well done.
Guest blogger: Tammy Billings is a mother of two. You can find additional musings at her blog https://www.jedi-mama.com/.
This is the story of a very well loved Strider and its three proud owners!
From left to right: Rhett (youngest), Trey (oldest), and Carter (middle)
all started riding on the same first generation green Strider ST-1!
It all started in the Spring of 2010 when Trey was 3 years old his Mom found a little bike without pedals. She says, “I was skeptical that it would be a ‘beginner’ bike and as soon as the kids learned to balance they would be on to a pedal bike, and the Strider would be obsolete for them. This wasn’t the case at all. They all (yes, even my 10 year old) still love the Strider Bike!”
Trey – 2010
“My kids were 3, 2, and 18 months when they started riding the Strider, and they loved being able to keep up with older kids on pedal bikes.” Two of the boys (Trey and Carter), “never rode a bike with training wheels. They wouldn’t even get on a pedal bike until we took the training wheels off! If I had known how well they were made, and how many years we would get out of our Strider, I wouldn’t have waited so long to buy one!”
Carter – 2015
After seven years, one Strider has taught two boys, and another “ten counting daycare kids, cousins, and friends! I was so hesitant because I felt like it was a beginner bike, and they would need to upgrade right away, and that’s just not cost effective. Boy was I wrong!”
Rhett – 2016
“Our youngest just turned two and I’m sure that as soon as he can reach the pedals on his big brothers’ bikes, he will be off!” Until then he’ll be riding his recently upgraded Strider 12″ Sport that showed up at his door (above)! Can’t wait to hear about his future success, and to check back in with this Strider 7 years from now!
At Strider we love riding bikes, and we love encouraging kids to ride! We love hearing your success stories, and seeing amazing pictures of Strider riders from around the globe. Share your stories and photos with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To share your best photos you can enter our monthly calendar contest HERE. If you’re taking your Strider on vacation with you this Summer make sure to keep the “Where Has Your Strider Taken You” contest in mind for your truly epic shots!
Whether it’s on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account we see a ton of photos from proud Strider parents! Honestly, it’s one of the best parts about our jobs. Our top 3 list of favorite photos is: 1. Smiling Strider riders 2. Strider staff members riding bikes 3. Puppies (because, puppies).
All of the photos that are posted on our wall or tagged with #StrideOn are amazing snippets of the global Strider story. In the last 10 years we’ve also taken a lot of photos at events, in studio, and even of our own kids when they come visit us at work. In this post we’ve put together some easy ways to improve your photos whether they’re for your family photo album, the monthly Strider Calendar Contest, or the recently announced “Where Has Your Strider Taken You” 10th anniversary photo contest.
Hopefully you’ll find these tips useful whether you have a $5000 DSLR, a point and shoot, or you’re primarily taking pictures with your phone.
1. Get down low – Do you want a photo of your Strider riders beautiful smiling face or the top of their helmet? If you get down to eye level you’re sure to capture a more interesting image then standing at fullheight, shooting towards the ground. Feeling really adventurous? Kneel or even lay on the ground for a unique photo perspective.
2. Rule of thirds – Many photographers will cite the “Rule of Thirds” as the basis for a well balanced photo. Imagine breaking down your image into thirds (horizontally and vertically). By placing the main subject of the photo at intersections the viewer is naturally drawn to a focal point and there is plenty of room left in the photo to give context to the image. You can do this by intentionally framing shots while taking them or afterwards in photoshop or other editing software.
3. Flash On – When you are outside…yes, you did read that right! You can manually switch the flash on your DSLR or the camera on your phone. It will even out the shadows cast by that helmet they are wearing to protect that sweet little brain of theirs.
4. Anticipate – Watch where your Strider rider is heading and you will catch the perfect moment!
5. Photos in Motion – The faster the shutter speed, the easier it is to stop the action in front of you. Most DSLR or a point and shoot digital camera will have a “sports” preset on your camera.
Good luck and happy shooting!