Why I want my children to love cycling

18 Jan

It’s common for a parent to want their children to follow a particular course through life. Maybe to pursue the parent’s career, or maybe to do something quite different. To share the parent’s interest in a given hobby, either for altruistic reasons (I am sure they will love to watch this year’s Mongolian Snail Wrestling Championship…) or for more selfish ones (I want them to join me in my two-man peanut hustling team). Certainly we want our children to share our basic values and beliefs.

Like many parents, I attempt not to be pushy in my children’s pursuit of academic, artistic or sporting excellence (it helps that they are aged 4 and 1). It feels like their lifelong happiness is not to be found through having parents with overly-high expectations or demands.

That, of course, all goes out of the window when it comes to bikes. I want them to love bikes and cycling in all its forms (other than recumbents*). I want them to enjoy the freedom of hopping on a bike and just going. I want them to enjoy the great outdoors whilst treading lightly (or perhaps rolling gently) on this earth. I want them to appreciate that not every journey requires a car.

I want them to be better than me at cycling, both physically and mentally. I want them to embrace the rain and the wind and maybe even the snow. I want them to achieve racing glory at whatever level they reach (and I’m sure that level will be Grand Tour or Olympic and possibly both).

I want them to be interested in the aesthetics of the bike. The beauty, the technology and the history. I want them to be self-sufficient in the bike’s maintenance. I want my daughter to stop to help fix someone’s punctured wheel (though perhaps when she is older – she is more interested currently in playing the pump like a recorder). I want my son to build me a frame (bike rather than zimmer).

I want to go on cycling holidays with them until I am in my dotage, with my children (and maybe my grandchildren) riding in an echelon to protect me and my wife from the wind. Is it asking too much that one of them learns sports massage so that they can become my personal soigneur?

It was with the aim of building this cycling passion that this year I forced the children to swap Tree Fu Tom for the Tour de France, afternoon naps for Olympic track cycling and a bedtime story for a discussion on the riders that suited this year’s World Championship Road Race (my son correctly identified Gilbert as a favourite). We spot bikes when we’re out and about – almost as enthusiastically as we look for ambulances and fire engines.

It is also the reason that we’ve bought our son his first proper bike (an Islabike) for his fourth birthday. So let’s see if we can transfer my passion to him and whether we can both maintain our enthusiasm during these wet, cold winter months. I’ll let you know how we get on.

* JOKE: of course I will support them if they elect to pursue an interest in recumbents…

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