On your bike

Easy! Easy!

Forgive me while I indulge in a spot of proud-parentitis, but yesterday was one of those big milestones in the life of Isaac (4 years 9 months) which left me – and him – beaming from ear to ear. Our oldest child is now a fully fledged bike rider, and it is surely only a matter of time before he is winning gold medals in the velodrome or out on the road in Great Britain colours.

The path to two-wheeled self-sufficiency has had its bumps and stumbles along the way. We bought him his first balance bike for Christmas 2010 (a few weeks after his third birthday), and for a long period he was utterly nonplussed by it. Indeed more than a year elapsed before he suddenly showed an interest. This was fuelled in large part by our neighbours’ son who, six months his elder, spent much of the spring whizzing around on his balance bike – essentially a fully functioning bike without pedals – on the road in front of our houses. (We live at the far end of a cul-de-sac, which is brilliant for the kids.)

From there his learning curve was rapid, and it wasn’t long before he was hurtling around at top speed – usefully, we’re at the top of a fairly steep slope – practising his skidding and building his confidence. It has become part of our regular weekend routine that he and I will head into town to give him a proper run-out and stop for a coffee en route. And for the last several months he has been honing his skills at a local BMX track.

Look, Dad, no brakes!

Over the summer several of his friends have graduated to proper bikes and we quickly bypassed stabilisers and had him trying out his Lightning McQueen bike at the park, without any real success. The balance was there, but the co-ordination with pedalling and the confidence were not.

Until yesterday, that is. Having not had a go for a few weeks, Heather took him up to the park again and suddenly it all fell into place. He came home with the biggest grin on his face, and insisted on dragging me outside after lunch to show off his new-found skills. And he’s not half bad either. His bike-handling skills are good and he was soon speeding up and down with two of his mates. (I’m thinking we may have the makings of a Thatcham junior team pursuit squad here. I’ve made a mental note to educate them all about through-and-off.)

Easy!

It won’t be long until he’s popping wheelies, hopping over kerbs and nursing his first broken collarbone. No doubt he’ll have a go at the BMX track later this week, which may well lead to a trip to buy elbow and shin pads.

Being the studious boy that he is, he’s already fairly advanced in terms of road awareness – whenever we’re in the car together, he announces road signs to me and I get a loud verbal warning whenever he spots a speed camera – which is perhaps not so surprising given some of his current reading material:

Daddy, can I test you on your road signs now, please?

I’m delighted both that he’s so pleased about his latest achievement and that our geeky, techie engineer of a son is so keen to burn off energy outdoors on his bike. A whole new world of opportunity is opening up for him. Who knows where it may one day take him? Personally I think he’d look quite fetching in a yellow jersey but given his historical preferences he might just prefer the distinctive pink of the Giro d’Italia’s leader’s jersey. It’s going to be fun watching where he goes with this. On your bike, son.