Cycling with children

Cycling with our two daughters is sometimes , shall we say, “interesting”.  It’s almost like their characters and outlook in life are being expressed through the way they cycle.  This can be seen from all kinds of different angles and perspectives and almost a reflection on life.  Might be worth exploring a little here, so let’s see how this turns out….

Here’s Hannah who’s 12, our youngest daughter.  Not a keen cyclist by nature but wiling to have a go.  Determined to cycle at her own pace no matter what everyone else is doing – anyone who doesn’t accept this may have to grapple with Hannah discarding her bike there and then and walking, possibly in the opposite direction.  It’s fair to say you know where you are with Hannah!  Even when she was learning to ride her bike there was that solid independence – “you can show me what I need to do and then I’ll work it out myself” with Hannah refusing any help in mastering the art of balancing.

Then there’s the cute side of her – the smiley sticker on her helmet, the little animal stickers on her bike.  Who cares if she’s covering up the upmarket manufacturer’s logo.  There’s a determined side as well, perhaps one of not wanting to be outdone by her elder sister in going up hills.  Hannah’s technique is to plod along, allowing her sister to wear herself out by blasting up a hill in top gear.  Meanwhile Hannah ambles her way up the hill, slowly and in bottom gear.  They both arrive at the top at the same time and thoughts of the Hare and the Tortoise spring to mind.

Becky on the other hand is different.  She appears more at-one with a bike and has been a natural.  Now she has stepped into the world of road bikes I have difficulty in keeping up with her.  We wonder if she will become a future Victoria Pendleton.  Seeing her on a bike is seeing her full of ambition and youthfulness which needs capturing, nurturing and coaching to see where it may take her.

For Becky there’s more of a sociable side to cycle: much less likely to ride alone for the joy of it but loves riding with others.  Like her sister, she has no concern about the mechanical side to a bike.  Just so long as it’s a personable possession and does the job.  Thankfully no regard to the latest groupset or aerodynamic spoke design.

I put the idea to her a while ago about cycling competitively.  Having mulled it over there’s now a little interest and I think there’s a little potential there to be harnessed and see where it leads.  It’s wonderful seeing that zest for life, that joy of rolling along through the countryside taking in all that is around, enjoying the experience.

Becky and Hannah are full of contrasts when compared to each other.  Both have their own characters and determination to do things their way and, to a certain extent, on their own terms.  Isn’t life a bit like that – having to make yourself heard, sometimes to push yourself forward and yet to recognise times when you need to allow others to go first, to consider the “greater good” and what’s best for the family or the team as a whole.  What parts do we as individuals have to play in a team, a family, a class, an office, a church group or simply our place in the world.

For me trying to pull all this together while we’re on the road is like trying to herd a pair of playful kittens along.  I’ll never get it right but trying is a wonderful thing each and every time.Every time we’ve been off together cycling, there are such precious memories and a life lesson on two wheels.

A London Skyride one or two years ago

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