My four year old son has his first bike. I’ve been spending my evenings teaching him how to ride - he’s catching on fast. One area he’s struggling in is the turns. He’s not confident, or not focused, and he tips over in the turns. I was jogging after him, shouting advice, when I realized my advice has implications far beyond beginners cycling - keep peddling and look where you want to be. Whatever twists and turns life throws your way, you can better navigate them if you keep peddling and look where you want to be.
The bicycle is an absurd device. Tell a person who has never seen one in action that a human can sit on top of two impossibly thin wheels and balance, and they’ll think you’re crazy. But bicycles work because of momentum and inertia - and you build those by peddling. My son’s problem was that he would slow down in the turns. So much so that he would lose the momentum that kept him upright. He had a few falls, nothing bad, but now is more confident in peddling through the turns so that he keeps his momentum up.
When life makes us turn, we sometimes end up slowing down to the point of losing our balance. Should we be cautious? Yes. Should we make sure we understand our surroundings? Yes. But once we know where we’re going, we need to pedal fast enough to keep our momentum. Peddling is your key to momentum - and momentum will keep you upright.
Look where you want to be; not where you are
The second problem my son faced was not looking where he wanted to be. He would come to an obstacle - a parked car, a trashcan, a street sign - and he would focus on the obstacle, not his path around the obstacle. When he took his eyes off of his path, he lost his balance and tipped over. It’s easy to get caught up looking at the scary things in our path. They’re large, they are dangerous, and they force us to change our path - all scary things that can grab our attention.
Keeping our eyes on the goal helps us avoid losing our balance. We remember why we are heading toward our destination. Focusing on the goal provides motivation to keep peddling, too, and we can always use that.