Training Wheels

Training Wheels

Photo by zoteva87 on Adobe Stock

Kodey picked up speed going down the driveway. He could feel the training wheels touch the concrete as he hit the street. He was allowed to go around three blocks on his own. His mom seemed to be more lenient while dad was away. He turned right on Elm, pedaling fast to keep the moment he gained on the slope of the driveway.

Kodey turned right again and directed his bike onto the sidewalk. This street, Birch, was actually two blocks long and his mom wanted him to ride his bike on the sidewalk. She said cars went too fast on this road. He could ride his bike on the street in their cul-de-sac and on Elm. He noticed someone walking toward him from the far corner. The sun was in his eyes, and he didn’t recognize the outline of the person. He reminded himself to be on the right of the sidewalk when he passed the person.

The bumps in the sidewalk kept Kodey concentrating on his bike. He didn’t notice that the person ahead of him had stopped and was kneeling down, waiting for him.

“Kodey,” the person said.

Kodey looked up. “Dad?!” He hit the brakes on his bike, making the back tire fishtail a little, the training wheels keeping the tire stable. “Dad?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

The sun was behind the person, but Kodey could just see his dad’s eyes. The way his eyebrows slanted off toward his ears. Then the person smiled and Kodey saw the gap in the person’s teeth. It was his dad!

“Dad!” Kodey jumped off his bike and ran into his father’s arms. “I’m so glad you're back!”

“Just for a while.”

“What? How long?”

“Long enough to take off the training wheels of your bike,” his dad said as he pulled out a pair of pliers.

“Hu? I’m... I’m not ready for that.” Kodey’s mind jumped. This moment was unexpected. So sudden.

“I saw you take off from the driveway. The speed you had. I’ll help you find your balance.” His dad pointed at the bike, “Bring it over here.”

Kodey brought his bike over to his dad. In just a few turns of the wrench the training wheels were off. His dad placed them at the bottom of the mailbox of the house they were in front of. “We’ll pick these back up later.” His dad held the handlebars out to Kodey.

“Are you coming home for dinner? Why can’t you stay?”

“I only have a little while and I have to go. I know it sucks, but it will be OK. Let’s go on the street, I don’t think there will be any traffic at this time of day.”

Kodey looked around. Their neighborhood was pretty quiet, most adults were at work. But it kind of felt like they were the only two people in the world. There were no dogs barking, not even a bird chirping. He pushed his bike onto the road, looking both ways, but there was no traffic.

“OK, I’m going to hold onto the seat, so stand as you pedal. We’ll get some speed and I’ll let go. Keep the front tire facing forward and you’ll be fine.”

“OK,” Kodey said. He took a breath and started to peddle. He turned the front tire too hard trying to find his balance, felt the bike sway to the left and then was airborne in his dad’s hands. He heard the bike fall.

“I haven’t even let go yet,” his dad said laughing. He set Kodey down then walked to the bike and picked it up. “Let’s try that again.”

Kodey nodded his head yes. As he got back on his bike he asked, “Will you be back home soon, though?”

His dad grabbed the back of his seat, “Let’s just focus on getting you riding this bike for now.”

Kodey looked back at his father. His dad was smiling, seeming to enjoy the moment more than he was. His dad traveled a lot for work. Kodey didn’t really know what his dad did as a job, something about consulting, about helping businesses move or something. Kodey was used to his dad being gone for days, but he had been gone for a week now and was heading back to work again.

“OK, Dad, I’m ready.” Kodey peddled hard, keeping the handle bars steady. He heard his dad’s feet running on the concrete. His leg muscles felt good as they picked up speed.

“Alright, on three, I’m going to let go...” His dad’s breath was rushed. “One, two, THREE!”

Kodey couldn’t actually tell if his dad had let go or not, but the bike felt loose under him. He focused on keeping the front tire straight. The houses around him seemed to be a blur. He was approaching the stop sign.

“Brake easy now!” his dad yelled.

He pushed back on his pedals with just enough force to feel the back tire locking up. He came to a complete stop, dropped his left foot to the ground, his bike leaning with him. “I did it!”

His dad did a fist pump up into the air. “OK, try coming back.”

“Without you?”

“Yes, you can do it! I believe in ya!”

Kodey was suddenly teary eyed. He felt a rush of confidence. “OK! Here I go.”

Kodey positioned the bike below him, set his left foot on the pedal and pushed down hard. As the right pedal came up he was quick to get his right foot onto it. The front tire wobbled as his right foot found the pedal then pushed down. He fought the handle bars back to the correct position, while his left foot gave the crank wheel more power, then his right foot, left, then right, and he was speeding back toward his dad. A smile exploded on his face.

For twenty minutes Kodey practiced riding his bike without the training wheels. He was able to do circles around his dad and even came down a driveway to get more speed.

“OK, let’s head home,” his dad said.

“Really? I can’t wait to tell mom I can ride my bike. Does she know you’re home?

“Let’s just get home, OK?” his dad said.

“OK, I’ll meet you at the stop sign!” Kodey said as he darted off.

Kodey got to the stop sign and waited for his dad. They turned right again. Their cul-de-sac was just a block away.

“Go up on the sidewalk,” his dad said.

“OK, race you home!”

His dad stayed on the street. There was a small camper parked on the street. Kodey looked back to see his dad step out in the street to walk around it, then turned back to beating his dad home.

“Mom! Mom!” Kodey yelled as he bolted into the house. “Mom! Dad’s home. He took off my training wheels, and I know how to ride my bike. Oh! My training wheels, I left them at that house by their mailbox.”

Kodey’s mom was staring at him. Kodey finally looked up at her. Her eyes were red and puffy. “Honey, slow down,” her voice quivered.

Kodey looked around. He expected his dad to walk in any second to help him tell the story of him learning to ride his bike. “Mom, are you OK?

“Honey, what do you mean dad’s home?” She knelt down in front of him, grabbing his shoulders. He could feel her fingers digging into him. Her eyes were wide.

“Dad met me on my bike ride, he’s home for a little while. He took off my training wheels, and I know how to ride my bike now.”

His mom’s head dropped. He could hear her sobbing.


“Kodey,” she said, looking up at him. Her eyes pleading to understand. “What do you mean dad’s home? What do you mean?” Her head dropped again. “What are you saying?”

Kodey’s chest started to feel like it was on fire. His mind was confused by his mom’s reaction. He looked back at the door. His dad should be here by now. He would walk in and his mom would spring up to greet him. They would kiss. This would all make sense.

Kodey tried to explain. “Dad met me on Birch street, you know the double long street? He took off my training wheels and I rode my bike on my own.” Kodey wanted to be excited but something was wrong.

“Honey,” his mom’s voice broke. Between big breaths she said, ”Your dad died in a car accident a few hours ago. The police called while you were out... riding your bike.” She fell to the floor.

Kodey stood there for a moment, trying to process everything. “No, he’s walking home right now.” Kodey rushed out of the front door. There was no sign of his dad. He went back into the house. “Mom, I swear he was just here... he took off my training wheels... I can ride my bike...” Kodey went back outside. Hoping to see his father walking up the sidewalk. There was no one.

“Honey.” His mom was standing in the doorway, tears soaking the collar of her shirt.

“Mom! Look!” Kodey picked up his bike. There were no training wheels. “He took them off... dad had pliers, he taught me to ride my bike...” Kodey started to cry. The world around him seemed to take a breath and return to normal. He could hear cars in the distance. A dog barking. The training wheels! “Mom, the training wheels!”

Korey picked up his bike and started for Birch street. Riding his bike without trouble.

His training wheels were right where his dad had placed them. A few minutes later, his mom found him standing there looking at them. The bolts were placed back in the metal arm. His mom placed her hand on Korey’s shoulder. She bent down and picked them up.

“So, Dad taught you how to ride your bike without training wheels?”

“Yes, he did.”

They hugged as the tears fell.

About the Author

Jamey Boelhower

I am an independent author with numerous published works. I have been an educator for over 20 years. My focus is poetry, but also write a personal blog and have published a fictional novel, Under the Lights and a collection of short stories, The Other Notebook: Some Spooky Stories. My recent works include While Death Waits, April 2020: A Poetic Time Capsule of Writing and Living During a Pandemic, These Words Believe in Ghosts, and Father and Son: Words Apart, among many others.

Read more work by Jamey Boelhower.