Hugo’s Training Wheels

Texto por María Bautista
Traducción por Dani Moore
Ilustración por Raquel Blázquez

Hugo was already older. Or so he felt, much older. So he did not understand why his parents refused to buy him a real bicycle. Not a tricycle like the one he had, but rather an authentic cyclist’s bicycle, with which one day he will become champion of the Tour de France. He insisted so much and wished for it so much that, finally, on his birthday, his parents gave him a lovely bicycle.

– I love it!! Can we go to the park to try it out?

But what Hugo did not know was that riding a bicycle was much more complicated than he had thought. And, that his mother would have to help him the whole morning. 

– I am holding you Hugo. Pedal!

And that was a marvelous feeling. You see, Mom could not hold on the whole time. It was not very practical if he wanted to become a cyclist. Where had he seen a Tour de France where the moms were running behind the athletes? So when everyone thought Hugo was already able to ride alone, they let him go and BOOM! Hugo crashed so hard he even broke a tooth (thank goodness it was a baby tooth, which was about to fall out). 

After that fall, Hugo wanted nothing to do with the bicycle. That machine was devilish and horrible and the cyclists of the Tour de France were crazy people that risked their lives on that dangerous device. Until one day, Dad arrived home with a new gift: training wheels for the bicycle. 

– With these you will never fall! You will see.

Hugo fearfully tried that new invention and noted with joy that, now, he could pedal without losing balance. From then on, Hugo went everywhere with the bicycle: to buy bread (although the bakery was just around the corner), to school (although the school was at the end of his street) and above all, to the park. 

In the park there were no cars, so Hugo could ride at his leisure. He rode up and down the slopes so fast that he felt like a pilot about to take off, or a cyclist about to win a stage. All around him, the kids with new bikes tried to learn to ride without training wheels and fell helplessly to the ground. Hugo, upon seeing them fall, laughed at them and passed by them very fast and happy with his green bicycle, his training wheels and his feeling as champion of the Tour. 

But with time, all those kids that fell on their bicycles without training wheels were learning how to ride their bike alone, and with their two wheels were much faster than Hugo and his four wheels.

– Hugo, are you sure that you do not want to try again without training wheels? –his mother asked him one day upon seeing him watch the rest of the kids seriously. 
– No! I am very good as I am. I will wait for you at the bottom, Mom.

And upon saying so, Hugo dropped down the slope. Why did he want to ride a normal bike? He did not want to lose balance and hurt himself. Further, he also could go very fast and win the Tour with his training wheels. To demonstrate this, Hugo began to pedal with such force that he felt how the wind ruffled his bangs sticking out of his helmet. It was an incredible feeling! It felt so good that, without realizing, he closed his eyes for an instant and got carried away, until a sharp yelp surprised him so much that he almost collided with a tree. But upon trying to dodge it, he fell noisily to the ground.

The boy brought his hand to his knee and saw that he had a small wound and felt like crying. But, Mom would not hear him cry, so he decided to resist the urge and get up as if nothing had happened. 

But something had happened. Tons of bad tempered squirrels were staring at him. 

– Savage! You almost ran over one of our friends.

Hugo could not believe what he was seeing: A squirrel that talked!

– What were you thinking?! Closing your eyes when you ride a bicycle!
– And riding so fast! At that speed it is lucky that you did not crush your head.
– Of course, it was because you are wearing a helmet! But our friend does not have a helmet; what if you caught her…

For a moment, Hugo forgot how amazing it was that there were talking squirrels and he felt very, very embarrassed. Upon noticing that, a squirrel, the only one with gray hair, felt a bit sorry for Hugo and began to defend him: 

– Leave him alone. He is only a small boy. Look, he even has training wheels on his bicycle!

Far from relieving him, that comment bothered Hugo a lot. He was already older! And besides, what would those squirrels know about bicycles?

– Well yes, I have training wheels, but that is so I do not fall. 
– But you didn’t think you could win any race with those tiny wheels, did you? Besides, who said that you could not fall with them? You just fell! – another squirrel laughed loudly. 

Hugo thought for a moment, so ashamed, that the gray squirrel again pitied him. 

– If you are so embarrassed to ride with training wheels, why don’t you take them off?
– Because without them I do not know how to ride. I fall all the time and I don’t like that. 
– Of course, no one likes to fall, but sometimes there is no choice. Look at us. We climb the trees and we jump from branch to branch and rarely do we fall. But it was not always so. When we were small and inexperienced, we fell all the time. But, we did not throw in the towel. If we had done that…now we would only climb bushes. What a bummer!

Hugo realized that those squirrels were right. As much as he feared falling again, he had to learn to ride the bike (especially if he wanted to be the winner of the Tour). 

– But… don’t leave! 

In that moment, Hugo discovered that his mother was coming. 

– Hugo, are you okay? With who have you been talking?

The little boy was about to tell her that it was with the squirrels, but then he thought for a moment. Would Mom believe him even if he told her? At the end of the day…. adults never believe those things! So instead of explaining what had happened, he simply told her: 

– Listen, Mom…Do you think Dad will want to take off the training wheels?

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