This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bicycling for autistic children

    Nope, this is not about another charity ride.  Remember when you first learned to ride a two wheeled bike?  I do, I couldn't have been 5.  It was a Schwinn, bright red with a "tank" on the top tube,just like a motorcycle.  I spent Christmas day riding down the gentle slope of the backyard and falling in a little bit of snow, over and over again and again until, on that day I learned to ride all the way down, turn and pedal back up.  The next day I was on the street and that bike was my magic carpet to independence.  I been all screwed up ever since of course, but that's not the point.
      Autistic children do not get that feeling.  Between the difficulty of dealing with their disorder and their parent's preoccupation with making it through each day, they never get the chance to learn.  One of the sponsors for the Steel Wheels bicycle tour is Matt A. Hampton the Executive Director for Lose the training Wheels.  He has helped develop a method to teach disabled children how to independently ride a normal bike.  He brought one of his bikes to the gig and I was incredibly impressed with the bike, him and his training method.
Although it looks like it's sitting on a track stand, that is actually an interchangeable rubber roller beneath the rear dropouts. The chain is attached to the steel wheel, which runs the roller in place of a regular tire. With the aid of an adult holding the rear handle the child is able to learn the mechanics and reflexes of moving the bike  with out any need for balancing.  Once they have mastered the basic pedaling and steering skills, the roller is changed to one wider in the center, forcing the child to learn basics in balancing while they pedal.  The rollers are progressively changed to be oval until the child is riding and balancing on a surface comparable to a tire tread.
Matt said that after a few sessions, children who had never imagined the possibility of riding a bike learn to ride completely independently.
   Matt said you cannot even envision the joy and feeling of confidence a child gains when they recognize that they are not "different" from the other kids and can actually go just like the rest.

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