Today my son learnt to ride his bike
Today has been a special day. Not just because it's the day after Chris Froome won the 100th Tour de France, or because the weather forecasters got it wrong and it was a day of glorious sunshine rather than the thunderstorms that had been predicted. No, it's because today is the day my son T learnt to ride his bike for the very first time.
T is a sporty four year old boy and ultra competitive, so it came as a surprise to find he wasn't totally enamoured with the thought of learning to pedal his bike. He's been riding a balance bike for years, and is happy to scoot round on his hand-me-down Islabike, but won't pedal. Hmm, strange.
If there is a game to play or a sport to get to grips with, T always wants to have a go, but it doesn't stop there as he always wants to do it to the best of his abilities. He's a stickler for the mantra 'practice makes perfect'. It's just his competitive nature I guess. He's a ferocious little rugby player, can kick a football like a mule and enjoys swinging a tennis racket, so when he threw an ambivalent look at me when I suggested we go out into the cul-de-sac and get some cycling practice in, I sensed there was more to it.
I'm scared to fall off my bike Daddy
A little while later, after tempting him with strawberries from the garden (and an ice cream) he let his guard drop and I managed to coax out of him that he was scared of falling off onto the tarmac. I was taken aback by this, as without fail he's unfazed by anything risky or that may result in injury.
We had a chat about how a fall or two is pretty normal when you're learning to ride a bike, and how professionals when racing fall off quite a bit. He seemed happy with that and so between us a cunning plan was formed.
We'd ride our bikes to a large park with grass less bumpy than our lawn (that won't be a problem to find!) using the FollowMe tandem to pull him along. Then we'd unhitch his Islabike when we got there, and we'd have a try at getting him to learn to ride by himself. He also suggested we could take his skateboard pads' just in case'.
So we arrived at the park, chatted for a moment or two about the things we could do when he learnt to ride, the places we could visit and the coffee and cake stops we could have. Then I added the most important ingredient for T - a tablespoon of competitiveness.
Within a breath, he was sitting on the bike raring to go, and with a gentle push he was off with my fingertips just brushing the back of his seat. I didn't tell him I wasn't holding on, but just wandering along behind like a grey faced old dog.
At the top of the park I confessed to my lack of physical connection, and he shrieked with happiness holding his arms aloft in a similar vein to Chris Froome as he was crowned winner of the Tour de France under a beautiful Parisian sky.
My little boy can ride a bike!!!
We turned around, and having expected to continue my act as park guide, I was somewhat surprised as he left me for dead in a trail of sun-scorched grass. It made me realise that up and down the country, countless parents will be watching their offspring take their first pedals to what will hopefully be a fit and active life spent on two wheels. In a couple of cases, those tiny, wobbly girls and boys will become the Laura Trott's and Chris Froome's of the future, ready to take on the world.
As I watched him get farther and farther away, the feeling was one of intense pride, coupled with the sobering reality that I should resign myself to the fact that as he grows into a young man this will be the view I'm most likely to see as I struggle to keep pace with my wonderful but competitive son. To the future!
It's taken years, but I've finally discovered that I'm not actually weird, I've just been living in the wrong place!
What if...... we follow our dreams?
The Highland 550 is one of the most grueling MTB rides in the UK - follow the progress of a 13 year old and his dad
Leave a Reply