Life without Stabilisers

Do you really ever have to take them off?

What’s wrong with going through life with training wheels attached?

I mean, sure, maybe you’ll never go as fast as you are capable of but you’ll never fall over, right?

Sometimes the falls look terrifying.

You never fall with the training wheels attached.

At what age should you be taking the next step?

When are your training wheels holding you back instead of helping you?

4 years old?


33 maybe??

Thinking about it, the stage you are at right now is a big accomplishment. The skills you had to acquire are complex and entirely novel. It’s taken years to get to the stage you are at now.

What’s wrong with staying here?

Riding with stabilisers is still riding, right?


Yet, something inside you tells you that’s not right. You are too young to plateau, too young to settle for medium speed. Something inside you knows you are capable of going faster.

We decided to take my son’s stabilisers off his bike this weekend, he’s 5.

He knew it was time, he’d seen his friends without stabilisers and they seemed to be having fun. But I could see he was torn. He’s always been “a thinker”, he likes to observe a situation, learn exactly what he’s meant to do, then, and only then, take the plunge.

His sister is quite the opposite, she’ll be at the top of a hill raring to go.

Me, “Little girl, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a 2 year old to head down that steep hill on only a balance bike!”

Her, “What’s that Dad? I can’t hear you over the noise of the wind rushing past my ears, the pace of adventure in my face and the massive hedge speeding towards me! Byyyeeee!”


My son negotiated a deal. The training wheels would come off, but he’d only ride to the end of the driveway and stop.

Can’t stray too far from what we know.

That’s how people fall.

But, sure enough, a few successful trips to the end of the driveway and we were soon going to the end of the cul-d-sac.

Then it was round the block.

Today it was all the way to school and back.

He’s pressing himself to go faster and faster, he’s learnt how to start by himself with poise and confidence.

In short, he’s not looked back.


And that’s the truth really, isn’t it? It seems so easy to keep living with your stabilisers on, accepting a lack of progression for a familiar and, comparatively, easy existence.

Then, suddenly, some big mean Daddy comes along and forces us to take the wheels off. Forces us to rely on our own sense of balance.

Suddenly we start learning and progressing rapidly, before we know it our new normal is a world that seemed terrifying when observed from afar.

And is this new world of faster speeds and more spectacular falls really all that terrifying?

Well, it is for those standing back and watching you disappear around the blind corner ahead, but for you?

It’s exhilarating.

It’s what life is all about, progressing, driving forward and not settling for the easy plateaus.

Ask any 5 year old if they’d go back to a life with training wheels attached.

I asked mine. He said:


As he disappeared around a blind corner and into a hedge.

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