Meet the Chicago Dad Who Has Taught More Than 200 Kids to Ride a Bike

Louie Burrel is a Beverly dad who has become known as the Bike Whisperer.

During the pandemic, Louie Burrel and his 9-year-old son, Brayden, took to riding bikes around their Beverly neighborhood. It soon turned into more advanced trail rides and ice cream trips, and when Brayden’s 6-year-old sister, Nia, found out about it, she wanted to join in the fun. But that meant teaching her to ride a bike and get off of training wheels.

“I took her to a parking lot, and 15 minutes later, she was off and riding,” says Burrel, a teacher and sports coach. “I came home and was so proud of myself.”

So was his wife, Heidi. After seeing a post a few days later on a local moms group looking for someone to teach their struggling child how to ride a bike, Heidi volunteered her husband. After one lesson, that child was successfully off training wheels, and Burrel knew he was onto something.

“After every lesson I gave, the parents would post videos of their children successfully learning how to ride, and the inquiries just poured in,” says Burrel, who estimates he has taught ‘well more than 200’ kids how to ride in three years.

Burrel says what sets him apart from organized programs that teach kids how to ride is the fact that he’s a coach by nature.

“Many of those programs teach kids the same way in a group setting, and kids need a more focused approach,” says Burrel, who does one-on-one 30-minute lessons in empty parking lots or school playgrounds. “Everyone is different, and while the approach is universal, I give different types of support based on what may be holding a child back from riding.”

Earlier this summer, 7-year-old Ryan flat out refused to ride a bike. Even as his mom, Anne McGinnis, drove him to his first lesson with Coach Louie, he said there was no way he would get on a bike. The minute that he met Coach Louie, Ryan changed his tune. 

Photo courtesy of Anne McGinnis

“He absolutely loved going to bike lessons and learned how to ride quickly,” says the Evergreen Park mom. “Coach is super patient and takes an awesome approach with the kids, never letting them fail. This is much different than the way we all learned how to ride and how I taught my first kid how to ride. Now we can enjoy riding as a family!”

Eight-year-old Lafayette, of Ashburn, was another success story for Coach Louie.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Beavers

After his mom, Nicole Beavers, said she and her husband had failed at teaching Lafayette to ride, Coach Louie quickly made it happen after one lesson.

“We left with a confident bike rider,” she says. “I’m happy we chose to take the lesson. I never thought this was a thing, but sometimes it is necessary to find quirky services and bike riding lessons that may be needed depending on the familial circumstances or the kid’s personality.”

Chicago Dad John Di Fillipino says despite wanting (and trying several times) to teach his children how to ride, having Burrel do it was the best decision for his family.

“Your children don’t believe you know anything and furthermore we have less patience with our own kids than with someone else’s,” he says. “We heard about Louie and how great he was and he didn’t disappoint. He has the correct temperament and patience for the job and our kids actually listened to him.”

Burrel has been dubbed the Bike Whisperer and, although strange at first, he’s finally leaning into it.

“When you are known to be a whisper at something, it’s a compliment,” Burrel says. “I have to take pride in it. I’m doing something that I love, and it’s funny, flattering and unbelievable all at the same time.”

Burrel is heading back to his full-time educator job this fall. He will continue to offer bike lessons on select evenings and weekends as his schedule permits. Contact him on Instagram at @bike_whisperer_chicago.

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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.


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