A couple weeks ago the DSAGSL sponsored it third annual Lose The Training Wheels Bike camp, or as I call it LTTW. LTTW is an amazing program that teaches kids (and adults) with developmental disabilities how to ride a typical bike. This might not sound amazing to those of you who do not have a child, relative, neighbor or friend with a disability, so let me tell you a quick story. This year Janet, a young woman with a disability, attended our LTTW camp. The camp started on Monday and consisted of five sessions. Each session had eight riders and lasted for 75 minutes each day. On Thursday, day four of the camp, Janet was out in the parking lot, riding a bike around completely independent. Her mother and sister simply sat on the grass in awe saying, "We have to get her father here tomorrow to see this." I was talking with mom about Janet learning to ride a typical two wheel bike. I found out that Their family likes to ride on vacation and often visits Mackinaw Island for summer vacations. (NOTE: Automobiles are not allowed on the island. The only methods of transportation are horse and buggy, bicycle or foot.) Janet has always had to ride on a tandem with her dad, but not this year! So I asked how long they have been working with Janet, trying to teach her how to ride a two wheeler. "Since she was about five." was her mother's reply.
"And how old is she now?"
I almost cried myself. Janet has been working for the past twelve years to learn how to ride a bike by herself and the LTTW program taught her how in four days! Less than five hours of practice, AMAZZING!
That is just one of the very typical stories I have heard over the past three years the DSAGSL has sponsored a LTTW camp.
Everyone that I talk to has the same question, "How?" I don't really know all of the science behind it, but I will tell you the basics. The riders learn to find their balance by riding a highly modified bike that offers a ton of stability in the beginning. The back wheel is replaced by a roller that keeps the bike stable. As the rider practices and their body figures out the balance the rear roller that starts out pretty flat is replaced by a roller that is a little more tapered on the ends, and offers a little less stability. As the rider gets better, the rollers become more and more tapered. The next thing you know they are on a two wheeler and able to ride.