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This weekend marked a new chapter in my cycling life. It was my youngest son's final weekend of being 3, and up until now I've always pedalled us wherever we've wanted to go.
When he was very young I pulled him in a trailer - he grew up snuggled in next to his older brother, warm and dry whatever the weather.
When their combined weight grew too heavy to pull, he moved to a rear seat for our weekend family rides out. He loves being high up, where he can see all the passing scenery, although he has been known to fall asleep on longer journeys.
For our shorter commutes, he uses an Oxford Leco Top Tube front bike seat. He sits comfortably between my arms and we chat away as we cycle along. Whether we are dropping his brother at school, visiting friends or heading into town, there's always plenty to see and discuss.
In the winter he's been wrapped up like an adorable little Ewok, with lots of layers, thick gloves and a balaclava under his helmet. He bravely takes the brunt of the elements, as I try to get us where we are going as fast as possible. In the summer he basks in glorious sunshine, as we meander our way leisurely, enjoying each others company.
I love the way we can share our cycling so intimately - being able to cocoon the person you love in your arms as you ride along is a truly amazing experience, and one so few people get to experience.
We've been using the Leco for about 18 months now, and I'm getting increasingly conscious that he's growing bigger each day. His helmet is fast approaching my chin, and deep down I know that one day this beautiful experience will be physically impossible.
He's not yet mastered cycling by himself. He's a whizz on a balance bike, and he's been trying for a while to ride his own little bike, but he's not there yet. He was overjoyed therefore when it was hooked up to a FollowMe tandem, and for the first time we were able to set out with him pedalling.
For me it was the end of an era. He was behind me, pedalling frantically, with a huge grin on his face. I couldn't hear what he was chattering about, and we had to stop to discuss the major things we'd seen. All the little details passed without comment, and I was free to enjoy the ride from a purely adult perspective. Somehow it wasn't the same without his unique view of the world.
Will I ever use the Leco again? Probably for a bit, as he's not totally outgrown it, and we've yet to finalise how the school run will work without it.
But I've seen how happy he is pedalling for himself. He's growing up, and one day soon, he'll be riding solo, and I'll be left with just the memories of being able to cuddle him during our rides.
I'm now looking forward to when he's old enough to ride next to me on a beautifully scenic cycle trail, and once again I can chat freely to him as we enjoy our cycling together.
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