I’ve always loved cycling. Two wheels have been my preferred method of transport ever since I can remember. I have vivid memories of the first time I rode without stabilisers. I was 4 years old and had a Raleigh Bluebird bike. It was blue with white wheels, white handlebars and a white plastic ‘boot’ above the back wheel. The day I learnt to ride, I’d been practising all day with stabilisers. I remember my dad saying I was ready to try without. He swiftly removed them and told me what to expect. I can’t remember how long it took me to get it but it wasn’t long. I loved the freedom of feeling ‘grown-up’ that I could ride a bike properly and it’s one of my most vivid first memories. I even remember the date: 08/08/88.
Of course, I outgrew that bike fairly quickly as you do at that age but it still holds a place in my heart as the bike that led me to fall in love with cycling. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d buy it again if they made it in adult sizes!
Having a birthday in late autumn often meant that new bikes were bought in the wettest and coolest weather of the year. I remember getting my first ‘grown-up’ bike when I was around 7 years old. It was pouring down with rain outside and very early in the morning. I opened the front door, still in short-sleeved pyjamas and rode off down the path. I finally came in around half an hour later for my birthday breakfast! I’ve always had a fondness for cycling in the rain. Perhaps it’s because of the memories it evokes of that wet morning when I didn’t have a care in the world and just wanted to try out my new bike.
As a now-married adult with 3 children, cycling is still pivotal to my day-to-day life and that of my family. Between my wife and I, we own one family car and whoever isn’t doing the school run (we take turns) commutes to work by bike. Cycling for us isn’t just for leisure, it’s a part of our way to reduce our carbon footprint. Whenever it’s possible to cycle, we prefer to do that.
Before we had children, our holidays were spent touring the United Kingdom with our bikes and not much has changed in that respect. We love exploring new places but we also have our firm favourites that we like to visit once a year. The Cornwall Coast and surrounding castles are always on our list!
It hasn’t always been easy to enjoy cycling with growing children and there has been many a frustrating and abandoned adventure, particularly in the toddler years when they learnt to protest and tantrum! However, since they all now cycle independently on their own bikes, things have turned a corner (although they’re still prone to the odd tantrum and occasional protest). Over the years, we’ve had a huge variety of baby and toddler bike seats, bike trailers and trailer bikes. It’s a relief to now be free of those and I’m looking forward to new and more daring adventures as a family of 5 as the children get older and into their teenage years.
Aside from commuting and holidaying, we spend a lot of our weekend doing ‘bike’ things too. Saturdays are usually for tinkering and servicing in the garage. Even our youngest child who is 5 knows his way around the most basic parts of his bike! Sundays tend to be our family cycle day where we get up early and drive to the countryside with a picnic. We like to go very early in the morning so that we have free time in the afternoon for school work and preparation for the week ahead. We’re fortunate that our children have always been early risers and I hope that doesn’t change as they enter their teens!
Ultimately, cycling is a huge part of mine and my family’s life and it’s more than just a hobby. I hope that I end up like my grandad who still cycles around his village for his newspaper and bread each morning at age 84!