Train­ing Wheels

Knock, knock, knock! Casey heard a bang­ing on her front door. As she walked over to an­swer it, she heard her friend Alex say, “Casey, come out­side! We’re all riding to Devil’s Run, and it’s go­ing to be epic.”

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Sud­denly, Casey didn’t feel like open­ing the door. She wanted to pre­tend she hadn’t heard her friends.

“Case, we saw you through the win­dow,” her friend Jeanie chimed in.

“Grab your bike and meet us out front,” Sylvia called ex­cit­edly.

But Casey didn’t want to grab her bike, and she def­i­nitely didn’t want to ride it down the steep­est hill in the whole county! She had an em­bar­rass­ing se­cret: She was 11 years old, and she still couldn’t ride a bike with­out train­ing wheels.

Casey’s mom had nick­named her The Train­ing Wheel Queen when she was younger be­cause she’d loved rid­ing with them so much, but Casey knew it wasn’t cool to use them any­more. “I know you’re mad at them now,” her mom would joke when­ever they’d prac­tice. “But one day, you’ll thank your train­ing wheels for all their sup­port!”

Casey chuck­led as she re­mem­bered the silly things her mom would say to cheer her up. But her good mood van­ished when she heard her buds call­ing her name again. She’d al­ways been able to keep her train­ing wheels se­cret from her friends, mak­ing up ex­cuses when­ever they asked her to ride. So, she walked outside to give them more made-up bad news. “Sorry guys,” she said. “I’m grounded be­cause I didn’t eat my veg­gies last night.” “Re­ally?” Alex asked dis­be­liev­ingly. Thank­fully, her friends seemed to let it go after a few min­utes. But Casey couldn’t help but feel guilty as she waved good­bye to her buds. She didn’t want to lie to them any­more,

so that meant she had a new mis­sion.

“Mom, where are you?” she shouted, run­ning into the house. “I need you to come here quick!”

“On my way, Sugar Bean!” Casey’s mom hollered. “What’s so ur­gent?”

Casey put on her most se­ri­ous face to let her mom know she meant busi­ness. “I want you to teach me how to ride a bike ... for real this time.”

“Woohoo!” her mom cheered. “Let me grab my tool­box, and I’ll meet you out front on the drive­way.”

“Out front?” Casey asked, feel­ing con­cerned. “Peo­ple might see …”

“With all those trees out there? We’ll be fine,” her mom waved away her con­cerns. “Plus who cares who sees you? You have noth­ing to be em­bar­rassed about.”

“You have to think that. You’re my mom.” Casey mum­bled.

“What was that?” her mom asked. “Noth­ing! Meet you outside. Can’t wait!” Fif­teen min­utes later, Casey’s pos­i­tive at­ti­tude was gone. She’d rid­den with her train­ing wheels on for a few loops around the drive­way, just to get com­fort­able on her bike again. As soon as her mom took the train­ing wheels off, she froze up. She got so scared that she didn’t even bother ped­al­ing when her mom let go of the bike. She just felt her­self be­gin to fall be­fore her mom would race

As soon as her mom took the train­ing wheels off, she froze up. She got so scared that she didn’t even bother ped­al­ing when her mom let go of the bike.

over to catch her.

“Let’s try it again, kiddo,” her mom tried to mo­ti­vate her. “You just have to start ped­al­ing and get out of your head. That’s all it took for me.”

Casey loved her mom, but she was sick of hear­ing the same ad­vice ev­ery time they tried this. “Mom, I know that’s all it took for you!” she yelled, get­ting too fed up to hide her feel­ings. “But it isn’t work­ing for me. Let’s just face it. I’m not meant to ride a bike.”

“Case, I’m sorry. I was only try­ing to …”

her mom be­gan to apol­o­gize be­fore she was in­ter­rupted by a fa­mil­iar voice.

“Hey! What’s go­ing on here? I thought you were grounded, Casey?”

Casey knew it was Alex be­fore she even turned around. But she was cross­ing her fin­gers Alex was the only one who’d left Devil’s Run early.

Un­for­tu­nately, that wasn’t the case. When she turned around, she saw Jeanie and Sylvia stand­ing there, too. And they all looked su­per con­fused.

“Wait, do you not know how to ride a bike?” Alex asked.

Casey couldn’t take the em­bar­rass­ment. She got off her bike, threw off her hel­met and started to run in­side, but some­one grabbed her wrist be­fore she could make it through the door.

“Casey, what’s the mat­ter?” Sylvia ques­tioned gen­tly.

“I ... I ... I can’t ride a bike, and now you all know,” she hic­cuped through her tears.

“Well … who cares?” Sylvia replied. “There’s no rea­son to get upset about it.”

“But, you’re all such good riders. It’s so em­bar­rass­ing.”

“Clearly, you’ve never been rid­ing with us,” Sylvia joked.

“What do you mean?” Casey asked, wip­ing

the tears from her eyes.

“I only learned how to ride last sum­mer,” Sylvia ad­mit­ted. “It took me so many sum­mers to fi­nally fig­ure it out, and I haven’t rid­den since Au­gust. I’m still not the best.”

“Alex is the only one of us that’s a re­ally good rider,” Jeanie popped into the con­ver­sa­tion. “Her par­ents taught her years ago. Sylvia and I usu­ally just ride around at the bot­tom of Devil’s Run and wait for her.” “Huh?” Casey asked.

“Wait, this whole time you thought we were do­ing it too?” Jeanie asked.

“Um, duh!”

“You couldn’t be more wrong!” Sylvia started to crack up.

“You know, Casey,” Alex walked over. “If you want me to help you learn to ride, I to­tally could. I helped Jean and Syl.”

“How did I not know this?” Casey cried. “I’d bet you al­ways got so ner­vous when­ever they brought up bike rid­ing that you tuned them out and started think­ing up ex­cuses for why you couldn’t ride with them,” her mom in­ter­jected.

Yup, she’s ex­actly right, Casey ad­mit­ted to her­self.

“Grab your hel­met,” Alex said. “I have a few tricks to teach you.”

Alex had Casey push the bike around her drive­way for a few min­utes first. “That’s so you can get com­fort­able bal­anc­ing on two wheels. My par­ents taught me this way be­cause I used to be a ner­vous rider, too” she shared.

“Re­ally? I never would have guessed that.” “Trust me. I learned a while ago, but I wasn’t al­ways so con­fi­dent on a bike.”

After that, Alex had Casey add in some brak­ing, so she could get com­fort­able with that, too. Next, she prac­ticed ped­al­ing while Alex and Jeanie held the bike up­right. Soon, Alex de­clared that Casey was ready to start rid­ing for real.

“I don’t know about this, guys,” Casey wor­ried.

“Oh, my gosh,” Casey shouted when she re­al­ized what was hap­pen­ing. “I’m do­ing it. I’m a lit­tle wob­bly, but I’m do­ing it!”

“It’s okay — we’ll be right here with you, like your own per­sonal train­ing wheels,” Sylvia winked.

“You sound as nutty as my mom,” Casey shook her head.

She got in the zone as she be­gan to pedal. She moved her legs in a cir­cu­lar mo­tion, one after the other. Then, she did again. And again. And again.

“Oh, my gosh,” Casey shouted when she re­al­ized what was hap­pen­ing. “I’m do­ing it. I’m a lit­tle wob­bly, but I’m do­ing it!”

“Yes, you are!” her mom cried, jump­ing up and down.

Casey felt her­self be­gin to fall as she looked around at her friends’ happy ex­pres­sions. She quickly put her feet down to stop her­self.

“So, I’m still a work in progress,” she ad­mit­ted, walk­ing over to where every­one was stand­ing. “But I did it for a few min­utes!”

“Yeah, we’ll have you coming down Devil’s Run with me in no time,” Alex joked.

“Yeah, right,” Casey sassed back. “That’s never hap­pen­ing.” She turned to her mom to say, “But hey, Mom, you were right.”

“Of course, I was,” her mom laughed. “About what this time?”

“About my train­ing wheels,” Casey smiled, look­ing at her three friends. “I do have to thank them!”

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