My love hate relationship with cycling

This is a collaborative post.

I remember having my first bike as a child. It wasn’t much of a bike, a second hand monstrosity with a broken seat that my dad had mended with building foam. But nonetheless, I learnt to ride it and eventually graduated to a slightly larger second hand pink bike. It was here that my love of cycling started – and ended.

my love-hate relationship with cycling

The accident

Well by adult standards, it wasn’t a proper accident. But to me as a six year old, it was nothing short of a disaster. I got on my pink bike on our little road which happened to be at the top of a hill. And off I went, rapidly gaining speed and losing control. Until I spun into some sort of blind panic, hit a stone, braked and went over the handlebars.

And that was that. I eventually got a brand new bike, did my cycling proficiency at school and pottered around on two wheels. But I didn’t love it. I never used it as a mode of transport and avoided doing triathlons for many years despite being a keen runner and swimmer.

Cycling as an adult

Too many years went by before I took up cycling as an adult. But eventually, I decided I wanted to have a go at triathlon. There was a cycle to work scheme going on at the time and I got a bike and started cycling 4 miles each way to and from work.

As time went on, I got different jobs but continued to cycle, with the distance varying between 4 and 6 miles. I was competing in triathlons but cycling was always my weak discipline. Eventually, the children came along and my cycling stopped. I’d never really grown to love it, but I wasn’t bad at it and I enjoyed the few triathlons I did.

my love-hate relationship with cycling

Cycling as a parent

As a parent, cycling takes on a whole different meaning. These days when I get out on my bike, it’s an escape. An hour to myself which I appreciate as much as a hot cup of tea. It’s great exercise too, so in the Winter I train indoors on the turbo trainer. I multitask and set the bike to the hardest setting and read a book while I cycle.

But more importantly, cycling has become a sport that I want to encourage my children into. Once you’ve bought the bike it costs nothing. It’s a great way to get outdoors and keep fit – and most importantly, it’s fun. But there’s a problem.

We bought Libby a bike for her birthday. She’s been able to ride a bike for over a year, but she was on a typical little children’s bike. It was heavy and difficult to manoeuvre with tiny wheels. But now, things have changed. Her new bike is light, easy to handle and fast. And she wants to ride it properly.

I have no problem with taking Libby to the park to ride her bike. Or taking her somewhere off-road so she can do something a bit more challenging. But she wants to start going on proper bike rides with me. And I’m not sure I’m ready. When I’m sure she can use the brakes and steer properly, I’ll take her on the pavement or a cycle path. But at what point should I be allowing her on the road?

my love-hate relationship with cycling

My cycling fear

These days when I cycle, I go out first thing in the morning. This is simply because there’s less traffic about. And if I’m honest, I’m petrified of getting knocked off my bike. I’m even more worried about something happening to my children when they’re cycling. So much so that I don’t know how I’m going to manage to allow them out on the roads when they’re older.

Motorists just aren’t as careful as they should be. They don’t give cyclists enough space, they go too fast, they overtake in inappropriate places. And yet, I don’t want to let my fears stop my children from growing to love cycling. I want them to be able to ride their bikes as a mode of transport and cycle both competitively and for fun. I want them to be able to do triathlons like me, but most of all I want them to be safe.

I’m not alone

I wasn’t surprised to hear that I’m not the only one facing this dilemma about cycling. Cycle Republic have recently undertaken the British Cycle Survey. I was heartened to read that lots more females are taking up cycling these days – in fact of the people surveyed who had started cycling in the past five years, 55% were women.

Sadly though, only 54% of cyclists would encourage their children to take up cycling in the future. This indicates that cycling lovers are facing the same dilemma as me. This is reflected in the research showing that across the UK, a large proportion of cyclists don’t feel safe on the road.

my love-hate relationship with cycling

In an uncertain political climate, cycling might not seem like a priority for the government. But it should be. The NHS and the environment are high on everyone’s political agenda, and cycling could provide a solution to both issues. As a population, we would be healthier if we got more exercise. And the more people that use bicycles instead of cars for everyday journeys, the greater the impact on emissions.

I do hope that road safety improves for cyclists in years to come. And that my daughters can grow up with a love for cycling that I never had – without sending me into some sort of blind panic every time they go out on their bikes!

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Please note, this is a collaborative post but all views, opinions and unstable relationships with cycling are my own.

8 Comments

  1. June 12, 2017 / 7:38 am

    Libby looks very happy on her bike, great that she can now cycle more easily. We love cycling, I used to cycle everywhere as a child, however it’s only in the last couple of years that I bought a new bike for myself (the last one was the one I had for my 14th birthday!!). Both my boys love to cycle and for longer distances I take my bike with littlest on the back of the bike. Like you, I worry about the roads and I’m nervous on the road myself. However, my eldest now cycles in front of me on quiet roads around our town, so he can practice staying into the side, signalling etc. I want him to be safe in the future too. x

  2. June 12, 2017 / 10:54 am

    I’d love to cycle more, but in central London I’d be too terrified. There are some nice cycle tracks near our home, though. Now we just need to get our youngest up and pedalling!

  3. June 12, 2017 / 11:18 am

    As a teenager and in my early 20s I used cycling as a means to get around, but haven’t been on a bike much since! My boys have both outgrown their bikes and not showed any interest in getting new ones. I wish they had the independence I had at their age just to go out on a bike, but I must admit I don’t encourage it because, yes, I’m a bit nervous too! My husband had a cycling accident last year and it reminded us all that it is a slightly risky activity, despite being very healthy and very good for the environment!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Think of the teenagersMy Profile

  4. June 13, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Such lovely kids! I don’t think I’ve ever been great at cycling! Lol My two only ride in the back garden and at the park across the road. I guess we could encourage them more. My eldest can ride great, the youngest still has stabilisers on.

  5. June 13, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Hi Nat, I fell in love with cycling when we moved here. We didn’t have a car and cycled everywhere right up until we had our second child. I used to cycle with our little dog in a basket on the front of the bike, Gregs in a seat on the back and a small foldaway pushchair bungeed to the frame. I had to have eyes in the back of my head, but I felt safe (choosing to cycle like you when traffic was minimum).

    For Gregs 4th birthday we got him his first bike, I was tickled pink & couldn’t wait for him to learn to ride it, sadly he did try, but never managed (his lack of balance & coordination went against him).

    My daughter was never interested and we ended up selling her bike…. Now though, she has got herself a job for the summer, which isn’t too far away, but because of work I won’t always be able to pick her up, so we are now discussing her getting on my bicycle, which unsettles me, not only for my bike but for her too. Had she been cycling all her life I’d be more relaxed. She does have a helmet though and the road to work is pretty straight and not too busy… We shall see though!

    I am sure your girls will grow up loving cycling and you are such a good role model for them. And as soon as they are old enough teach them the ways of the road and how to be as safe a cyclist as possible!

    xx
    Debbie recently posted…It Wasn’t To BeeMy Profile

  6. June 15, 2017 / 9:57 am

    I need to start cycling more and my 9 year old loves it. Around here we do have a lot of cycle paths which I think helps a lot. Wish it was more like Holland, Maybe you could take her on a cycling holiday.
    pinkoddy recently posted…Should Children do Parkrun?My Profile

  7. June 15, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    Every single day Alice asks when can she next ride her bike, it is her most favourite thing to do. But the thought of her doing this on a road scares me a lot. One of the reasons we choose our new house is because she can safely ride it around our cul-de-sac while I watch and for now she is content with that. But I know it won’t be long before she wants to go further afield x

  8. June 18, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Fab post. I used to love cycling when I was younger. I pretty much begged mum for a new mountain bike for Christmas and she managed to get me the best but sadly never got to ride it as md kicked in. But I always loved it. I’m trying to get the boys into doing it but it’s a tad difficult but we have enjoyed going out with me on my scooter and them on their bikes.
    I’m sure the girls will grow up loving it! And would love the safety to improve for all. Some brilliant examples in europe.
    Martyn recently posted…My Sunday Photo 18/06/17My Profile

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